Shoppers react to Cooper’s halt on Russian liquor sales

Published: Feb. 28, 2022 at 11:15 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Governor Roy Cooper stopped the sale of Russian liquor in its tracks with an executive order Monday afternoon in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As North Carolina falls in line to impose sanctions, Greenville shoppers shared their opinions of the state leader’s move.

Of those shopping for liquor, some had vodka on their list.

“Specifically, I came looking for Ukrainian vodka,” said shopper Daniel Ergle.

Stocking up for his birthday party, he wanted to find that spirit to echo his support of Executive Order 251.

He settled for a Polish brand when he couldn’t find a Ukrainian-made bottle.

What wasn’t for purchase were Russian-made bottles under the brands Hammer and Sickle, Beluga, and Russian Standard.

“It’s not an easy thing to do, I get that,” said Ergle, “but as soon as they can pull it, I 100-percent support it.”

Governor Cooper said that North Carolina is with Ukraine in the fight against Russian warfare.

Others see Cooper’s move as a blow to the free market.

“People, what they like to buy, you need to let it stay on the shelf,” said Minnie Ward. “I think he’s doing wrong. I think he should not do that.”

The ABC Commission confirmed their cooperation with Cooper’s executive order saying Russian produced spirits are suspended and a deeper review of the state’s available products will determine if more suspensions need to be made.

Ward doesn’t agree with control over what she can enjoy saying, “If you love the drink, you love the drink.”

Others, like Ergle, are critical of Cooper for not making the move sooner.

“I was actually hoping they would have already pulled it by now,” explained Ergle. “I know they’ve pulled it out of some bars already.”

Now, the state has made it clear that no public dollars or operations from North Carolina will benefit Russia.

Some analysts say this move is mostly symbolic as the Distilled Spirits Council says a very small percentage of the nearly $7 billion in annual vodka sales comes from Russian-made vodka.

They say this specific import of spirit has been on the decline for several years and is down 79-percent in the past 10 years.

One global firm that tracks alcohol sales, the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, estimates less than 1-percent of vodka consumed in the United States is produced in Russia.

More than half of the vodka sold in the U.S. is made here in the U.S.

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