Weekly analytical column of Vadim Drobiz Week May 09 2016 – May, 15 2016 (11)

Weekly analytical column of Vadim Drobiz

Week May, 09 2016 – May, 15 2016

Vadim Drobiz – Head of the Center for Federal and Regional Alcohol Market Research (CFRAMR)

The most quoted in the Russian media expert on the alcohol market of Russia, former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe. The latest news, detailed analysis, commentary, statistical databases on the alcohol market since 2002.

Full versions of the materials published in Russian on the website Vadim Drobiz http://cifrra.info/

Email: alko-pr59@yandex.ru

Emirates and alcohol

Elena Rykovtseva – journalist of Radio Liberty

The first time I went to Dubai 18 years ago with my eldest daughter. And at this time I was pregnant with my youngest one, so then for me of alcohol problems did not exist. I just knew that consume it at the moment I cannot. I was then do not matter, have it in this country or not. But on arrival in Dubai then it turned out that the problem is acute care for the local population. Every morning we drove from the hotel to the beach in small car. His driver was never tired of every time to ask us whether we have vodka? We told that there is not brought. But he could not believe in such nonsense. A new morning began with new inquiries: whether we have a bottle of alcohol? We are disappointed the driver, and he once again did not believe us: this cannot be, that we came to this country without big supplies of alcohol.

In my current visit to Dubai it was all different. This time I was not pregnant, so prudently tried to find out in advance, as in this Muslim country affairs with drinking? Friends have told me that the local restaurants do not have a problem with it. When we arrived, we went to explore the restaurants, there are an incredible number of them – for all tastes, cuisines from around the world. Dubai – this is modern Babylon, in which the English language is more common than Arabic. How else to communicate peoples from dozens of countries who working in the emirate? Dubai does not give the impression of orthodox and very religious city. Many women walk around town in shorts and no one is shocking! Everything is like in any European or American bustling resort city.

However, as our survey of the restaurant market it turned out that they do for all tastes, but not in all religions. None of them had alcohol! “You will not find it here.” So we were told in an Indian restaurant, located in the world’s largest Mall of Dubai. I did not believe in it and we went to a nearby Italian restaurant, where behind the bartender we saw bottles of limoncello.

We sat at a table and ordered a pasta and asked for the wine list. And we were told that there is no wines. And it was very sad – to sit in a good Italian restaurant with gorgeous views of the Dubai Fountain, there is the usual Italian food and do not drink Italian usual red wine.

And then for dessert, they brought us limoncello! “A gift from the boss,” – smiled the waitress. I was glad that I can drink as much as two glasses, because my youngest daughter, with whom I went this time in Dubai, does not drink alcohol. However, two glasses, by contrast, got she.  Because the liquor turned soft drink. So, stringy lemon syrup. One mockery.

Then we went to a luxurious new quarter Marina Dubai. This latest collection of skyscrapers over the artificial lake. On the lake slowly sailed boats, strolling along the promenade people, and the whole promenade was full of restaurants “7 km restaurants !!” – It was written on the illuminated signs. We walked along the endless chain of Brazilian, Portuguese, Italian, Mexican and some more restaurants, and the whole chain is something reminiscent to us restaurant’s waterfront in Miami Beach, Florida, but we felt important difference: there was no loud music, laughter and loud conversations. Here people sat at tables, drinking glasses of water, talking quietly, and in general they were few! And the food on their tables was not enough, because  plain water does not cause of appetite. And I again, as in the Dubai Mall, asked for waitress: “And whether there is at least one restaurant with alcohol?” And received the answer: “There is no, but in the blue skyscraper – there is a little shop with any alcohol and there may be sold it to you.”

But we did not have the power to go into the shop. We sat down and had dinner at this quiet waterfront as everybody. I ate and thought how strange: Dubai – designed for tourists. It attracts them with all their windows. It’s all oriented for trade. And the ban on any alcohol, local authorities are not only deprived of income from the sale of it, they are the rest of the trade do worse. Tourists eat less in their countless restaurants and less buying in their unending malls, because alcohol – it’s not only enhances the appetite, it is very stimulating consumer hype. I feel it is good in myself: after a glass of alcohol I was very drawn to the purchase. I do not rule out that for many other people alcohol increases the buying activity. So the one who does not give people drinking hinders trade.

In this sense, it is interesting as in the Emirates sell pork. The supermarkets have a small department for non-Muslims, where sell this kind of meat. Nothing like this on alcohol. It is not sold in supermarkets. I have a version of why this is so. I think, because Muslims will not eat pork under any conditions, and it can to sell. But alcohol – this is a big temptation. And consume alcohol locals want. They are ready to sin on your own risk. And in order not to enter into temptation of its citizens, which will be difficult to sustain, the store did not sell alcohol.

We moved from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. There’s alcohol can be found in stores and restaurants, but:

… these restaurants only at expensive hotels.

… just a couple of these stores, and their windows are tightly closed and that the store sells alcohol, you can guess, but once inside it.

… in order to buy alcohol, you first need to buy a license to purchase it.

… such a license sell only to visitors employees (non-Muslims), but not for tourists. To do this on the website need to download the number of work visa and a certificate of salary! You cannot spend on alcohol more than 10 per cent of yours wages. The license costs about 150 dollars. It is expensive!

So what to do? A friend of mine told me: “You go to the store and you will be ask a license, and you say that you forgot it at home, but most likely you do not even ask. But some builders from Bangladesh are likely to be asked. It is at the discretion of the store or restaurant employees. Because if you order alcohol in a restaurant, you must also show the license. But if they see that you’re an obvious tourist – the license is not likely to be asked. ”

– But they have to ask?

– They ask a must. But do not ask.

Alcohol, even if you have a license or shop (restaurant) sold alcohol to you without it, will cost you dearly. Prices in a store about 30% higher than, for example, in Europe. A bottle of ordinary Chilean wine, which in Europe costs $10, in the Emirates will be $15. But in hotels $15 worth just one glass of wine. Bottle of real limoncello – it’s $200.

At the same time in a German restaurant at a local hotel you can easily see how there sat a man in traditional Muslim clothes and drink beer. And no one forbid! As I was told, in the Emirates all ready to close their eyes while the visitor does not violate the accepted rules of behavior.

It seems to me that prohibit (or limit) the consumption of alcohol for those who do not consider its consumption as sin, it is too big a concession the economy in favor of religion in the country turned increasingly to tourism than to religious fanaticism.

And if we really talk about practical things – it is not necessary to wait for the mercy from local regulations. The United Arab Emirates are allowed to import four liters of alcohol per person. On a very short break should be enough!

Alcohol and age …

I would like to bring the following table, which shows the structure of the consumption of alcoholic beverages in Russia today, depending on the age drinkers.

Age of the consumer vodka beer wine port wine moonshine
- to 25 years old 25% 80% 28% 7% 7%
- to 26- 39 years old 50% 70% 26% 9% 7%
- to 40- 55 years old 59% 53% 23% 9% 9%
- over 55 years old 58% 35% 21% 12% 13%

(Respondents were allowed to name a few types of alcoholic beverages.)

Vodka consumption grows with age. But with beer trend reverse. Most of all wine consumed young people up to 25 years. Then consumption is declining.

Today the population of Russia at the age of 18 to 25 years in 2 times less than in the beginning of the century. Potential consumers of wine was less demographically. This factor has started to work on the wine market in 2012- 2013.

The following table shows the legal sale of wine in Russia in million dal given by years:

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
62,2 62,0 61,8 60,2 57,8 57,8


The last two years (2014/15) wine consumption in the country is almost stable. But if consumers demographically becomes smaller, it means that the wine consumption per capita has increased somewhat.


Nielsen Company as a result of the poll found that 41% of Russians are choosing global brands of alcohol, 27% – local, to 31%, this factor does not play a significant role.


One man may be duty-free import into the country at a time not more than 5 liters of alcohol.

In March this year vodka output in Belarus decreased to 937 thousand dal, compared to 949 thousand dal in February. In January-March 2016 production of vodka amounted to 2549 thousand dal. In the first quarter of 2015 it was produced 2.579 million decaliters. Thus, the first quarter of 2016 +1.2%. Growth it not call, but some stabilization of recession in the alcohol market of the country observed.


The most popular alcoholic beverage among Russians in the first quarter of 2016 was the vodka, it would prefer 40% of buyers. In second place – the beer (38%), the third – wine (10%) These data are contained in the latest report on the socio-economic situation in Russia, posted on the official website of the Federal State Statistics Service.


Number of Finns traveling to neighboring Estonia only for alcohol greatly reduced: if a year ago, in February and March 81% of Finnish tourists in Estonia mandatory bought an alcohol, but this year the figure was 69% in the same period. The share of tourists, who buy large amounts of alcohol (more than 500 liters per person), reduced by one third over the year.

I want to remind that the tourists from Finland were taken in 2014 and 2015 at 35% of the volume of alcohol retail sales in Estonia.

Czech Republic

The Czechs are moving away from the tradition of drinking beer in bars and restaurants. On this, as reported by Radio Prague, the statistics show. The biggest amount of beer sold in glass containers – 41%. On draft beer now accounts for 37% of consumption. 12% of Czech consumers buy beer in plastic containers. 7% like canned beer. 60% of respondents said that they prefer to consume a traditional Czech low-alcohol drink out of bars and restaurants.

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