It is necessary to fight illegal alcohol through inspections of large factories
In Russia, once again, war has been declared against the moonshiners. The business ombudsman, in a report addressed to President Putin, proposed to ban the sale of moonshine stills, motivating his initiative with the low quality of artisanal drinks, which are gradually replacing legal intoxicants.
Underground bootleggers, suppose the defenders of entrepreneurs, have long ceased to drive moonshine exclusively for personal consumption and produce burned alcohol on an industrial scale, earning “super profit” on a surrogate.
Experts doubt the prospects of such an idea, since the lion’s share of counterfeit goods comes from large distilleries, and it will be not only costly, but practically impossible to control the sales of half-liters “from hand to hand”.
The authors substantiate their proposal to completely ban moonshine still with a study by the Union of Alcoholic Beverages Producers, which shows that the share of legal vodka in Russia accounts for less than 70% of the consumption of this type of alcoholic beverage.
In a number of regions, the situation looks extremely depressing: in the south of the country, more than half of the alcohol is counterfeit, and in the Far East, only one out of ten half liters comes from legal factories. As a result, over the past 5 years, the losses of producers reached 1.35 billion liters, and the budget missed more than 375 billion rubles in taxes.
As countermeasures against bootleggers, business advocates propose, in particular, to ban the sale of moonshine stills, since handicraft alcoholic drinks are often sold, and not for personal needs. The quality of such products is not controlled, therefore the level of harmful fusel oils in the left alcohol is many times higher than the norm.
The popularity of moonshine stills in Russia is really growing at a rapid pace. In 2020, only one of the largest Russian Internet sites recorded 1.6 million requests for the purchase of devices for the production of alcohol at home, which is 30% higher than the indicators of the pre-pandemic year. The total number of similar queries over the past 12 months in all search engines exceeded 3.5 million.
There are several reasons why the Russians decided to start distilling. Forced quarantine pushed the inhabitants to search for new ways to spend their leisure time, and for many, the creation of their own distilleries has become the most acceptable option, which, moreover, has a positive effect on the family budget. The cost of a legal half-liter in Russia now starts at 250 rubles. Making moonshine is much cheaper and does not take much time.
As a moonshiner with half a century of experience, Denis Sokolov, says, you can get 5-7 liters of handicraft alcohol, which is not inferior in degrees to legal vodka and meets all quality standards, in just a week. Costs for all stages of the process, including electricity costs, will not exceed 1,000 rubles. “The quality depends on the number of mash distillations. After the second distillation, the taste characteristics of the product will turn out to be even higher than that of the average factory production, ”the source said.
According to the head of the Center for Research on Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets Vadim Drobiz, against the background of the constant growth of excise taxes, legal vodka was far from affordable for all fans to slap a glass. As a result, about half of the finished alcohol is now counterfeit: according to our interlocutor, out of 1.5 million liters of vodka and alcoholic beverages sold in Russia last year, only about 850 million liters were legal products.
Moreover, as the chairman of the Union of Consumers of Russia Pyotr Shchelishch believes, ordinary moonshiners are not to blame for the growth of the underground alcohol market. A functional moonshine still costs about 10-15 thousand rubles. Of course, there are premium units equipped with a multi-level distillation system for the production of elite alcohol. Their price varies from several tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of rubles – but this, of course, is for a narrow circle of wealthy amateurs. However, the total volume of both cheap and luxury stills does not exceed 35 liters on average.
With such a small scale, in order to cover half of the Russian vodka market, it is necessary to attract tens of millions of Russians, who would have to devote a significant part of their free time to home brewing. “Obviously, the lion’s share of illegal products comes from some large factories in the country, which, at the suggestion of management or owners, work in the“ third shift ”, while bypassing the registration in the Unified State Automated Information System, Drobiz believes. – The ban on the sale of moonshine stills, according to its logic, should imply the withdrawal of already sold devices. However, in this case, the state would have to compensate for the costs of citizens, since such purchases were carried out on a completely legal basis. “
In addition, law enforcement will have to be involved in order to catch an ordinary bootlegger. The costs of fighting home-grown moonshiners will not be offset by the proceeds from the sale of legal goods. Isn’t it easier to hit the “green serpent” in the heart and audit large alcohol producers? The ban on the sale of moonshine stills will not diminish the interest of Russians in this kind of leisure: there are many “kulibins” who can assemble an apparatus from a bucket and a drain pipe.
The expert called the fight against moonshine still useless
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