The Polish market for spirits, especially in the pure vodka category, is shrinking year by year. The situation on foreign markets is completely different, where the export of domestic spirits has increased significantly. There is a chance to sell even more Polish vodka abroad. Every self-respecting manufacturer should have a “Plan B” – experts emphasize.
Will Poland benefit from the ban on imports of Russian vodka introduced by the United States and Great Britain after the start of the war in Ukraine? This question was repeated many times last year by both experts and domestic producers of spirits. This plan was partially successful. Domestic companies also conquered new markets and significantly increased the export of their products.
The results are better than expected. Exports up significantly
The statistics are clear. Last year, the export of Polish vodka increased by nearly 15%. quantitatively and by 38 percent. in terms of value. However, there is one “but”. If we carefully analyze the structure of this export, it turns out that in the case of both the United States and Great Britain, this increase was only a few percent. Experts’ expectations were slightly higher.
On the other hand, completely new, exotic export destinations have appeared. Polish alcohol went to e.g. to Cuba, Paraguay and Tanzania. However, their share in the overall export was symbolic. On the other hand, the sale of alcohols to countries where Polish products already have a well-established and solid brand has increased significantly.
Companies want to maintain high sales of Polish spirits abroad
According to experts, the reasons for the increase in exports of the Polish spirits industry were different. – We should be happy with the good results and hope that this will be a permanent trend, but we should be very careful to associate this phenomenon with the reduction of exports of Russian vodka – says Witold Włodarczyk, president of the board of the Association of Employers of the Polish Spirits Industry in an interview with Wprost.pl.
In his opinion, the strong export of Russian vodka is a kind of myth. This is most clearly illustrated by the sale of these products to the American market. In 2021, before the war broke out, Russia exported $18 million worth of vodka to the United States. In the same period, exports of vodka from Poland amounted to USD 63 million. The leader was France, which sold alcohol on the local market for the amount of USD 660 million.
The names of some vodkas can be confusing to many people
So what is this myth about? President Włodarczyk claims that many people associate certain “Russian-sounding” brand names with vodka imports from Russia. Meanwhile, Smirnoff belongs to the British group Diageo and is mainly produced in the United States, Gorbatschow is produced in Germany, and Stolichnaya in Latvia.
– Vodkas imported from Russia belong primarily to the premium and ultra-premium segments, and it is mainly in these segments that we should enter into a competitive fight – the expert points out.
It is worth taking advantage of the confusion to promote Polish spirits
Witold Włodarczyk argues that he treats all this turmoil on the market and the media hype related to the ban or boycott of Russian vodkas in democratic countries as a pretext to promote the export of Polish spirits.
“For alcohol, the ideal situation, both economically and socially, is that we produce domestically and export most of that production globally,” he adds.
In his opinion, looking from the current Polish perspective, it may be difficult, because despite the increase in exports with a simultaneous decrease in domestic consumption, foreign sales still account for only 20 percent. what has been produced.
Poland would like to follow the path of France, Scotland or Ireland
An unrivaled model for Polish producers of spirits is France, where nearly 98 percent of of the cognac produced there is exported. The situation is similar in Scotland and Ireland, where an expert constitutes more than 90% of the respondents. selling Scotch whiskey and Irish whiskey.
“These countries clearly show that it is possible,” says President Włodarczyk. One of the reasons why it is worth selling alcohol abroad is its profitability. According to the producers, it is much more profitable to export Polish vodka than to sell it on the highly regulated and still primarily price-oriented domestic market.