Russians know that vodka has been an integral part of their culture for generations, but now they are learning that beer is an integral part of football (‘soccer’ for the Yanks) culture. Multiple reports have confirmed that Moscow restaurants and bars are suffering from a beer shortage resulting from the seemingly unquenchable thirst of World Cup fans. Fortunately, mega-sponsor Budweiser is keeping their clients stocked.
The problem is not a general shortage of alcohol, but specifically brews that tournament tourists crave. “We just didn’t think they would only want beer,” one Moscow waiter told Reuters. His restaurant was out of beer at press time and waiting on 24+ hour delivery times.
The Independent reported that the city Nizhny Novgorod ran out of beer before Sweden’s match against South Korea. The Swedes gladly took credit for the drought and social media erupted with expressions of pride from Swedish supporters.
However, the killjoys at the Financial Times theorized that it’s not all about Scandinavian tolerances. A regional carbon dioxide shortage may not helping the situation. FT noted that all carbonated drinks in the area are in short supply due to plant maintenance being performed by gas vendors.
Russia is not normally a big market for beer. In fact, sales of suds have dropped about a third over the last decade. In addition, the government is actively fighting a public health crisis in the form of rampant alcoholism by cracking down on alcohol advertising and sales.
Big Beer offered a mix reaction to the shortage. Carlsberg’s Russian division, Baltika is keeping up with demand, but admitted that supply issues may become a factor soon in a statement. Heineken stated that they are also keeping up with demand.
A-B InBev is sitting pretty. Their Budweiser brand is the official sponsor of the World Cup. A company spokesperson told Fox Business that company “expected and had planned for” for the “increased beer demand” that they are currently experiencing.
“While we have heard reports of some restaurants and bars in Russia experiencing supply and delivery disruptions, we are fully operational and delivering in full capacity to our partners so the millions of football fans in Russia can continue to enjoy Bud and our other brands responsibly during the World Cup,” a the company told FOX Business.
As predicted in their last quarterly report, the World Cup represents Bud’s largest ad campaign of the year. The company is capitalizing not just in the host nation of Russia, but in 50 other nations where their “Light It Up” promotion is in full effect.
Photo by Marcello Casal Jr. [CC2.0]