Russia Is Running Low on Beer During the World Cup - Modern Farmer

Russia Is Running Low on Beer During the World Cup

High taxes and strict rules about beer drinking in Russia help explain the shortage.

Fans of Sweden celebrate their team's victory over Korea with beers at the 2018 World Cup.
Photography Sergei Mikheev /

It’s well known that Russia’s alcohol of choice is vodka. It ranks below average for beer drinking, with a 2017 study showing that Russians drink only about 59 liters of beer per person per year. (The Czech Republic ranks first, at 142.4 liters per person per year; the US is at 75.4.) Now Reuters is reporting that they nation’s unprepared for the rush of beer drinkers brought on by the World Cup, and that Moscow is running out of suds.

Beer is, worldwide, the most popular sports drink. Well, not “sports drink,” like Gatorade – sports “spectating” drink. In 2014, over 3.4 million people attended World Cup matches in Brazil, with several more million just showing up around the country to watch broadcasts. That’s a lot of thirsty spectators.

Reuters reports that several bars and restaurants in Moscow are running low on beer, and that supplies are low enough throughout the country that new shipments are delayed. But Russia must have expected this, right? Why not stock up ahead of time?

Since 2010, Russia has had extremely high taxes and tariffs on beer, along with various other rulings that handicapped the drink’s popularity there. Ads have been banned from television and print publications; beer drinking outside was outlawed in 2012; the size of beer bottles was reduced in 2016; and as a result, beer consumption has significantly dropped over the past decade. With that in mind, it’s easier to understand the shortage.

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