LAKELAND, Fla. - Liquor stores across the country have started pulling Russian vodka from their shelves in protest of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Now Publix is showing its support to the people of Ukraine by doing the same.
The Lakeland-based supermarket chain, which has nearly 1,300 stores throughout the southeast, announced it is pulling all Russian-made vodka brands from its shelves.
"Publix stands with the people of Ukraine. To show our support, we have decided to remove Russian-made vodka brands from our shelves," Director of Communications Maria Brous said in a statement to FOX 13 on Wednesday.
While some vodkas, like Russian Standard, are made in Russia, many brands of vodka available in the U.S. today are actually made outside Russia.
On its website, officials with Absolut Vodka say their products are made in Sweden, while officials with Stoli Group, which owns the Stoli brand of vodka, among other vodka and non-vodka alcohol brands, say their company's vodka products are manufactured and bottled in Riga, Latvia, and is registered with U.S. officials as a Latvian product.
"The Stoli® vodka brands and its owner Yuri Shefler were exiled from Russia nearly two decades ago. ‘As the Founder of SPI Group of companies, I have personally experienced persecution by the Russian authorities and I share the pain of Ukraine and its people,’" the website read.
While Smirnoff vodka can trace its beginnings to Moscow in the 1800s, the company's website notes its founders had to leave Russia in the 1910s, and started producing vodka again in France in the 1920s. The brand is now owned by Diageo, which is headquartered in both New York and London.
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said Russian vodka imports only account for about $18.5 million of the approximately $1.41 billion worth of vodka imports in 2021.
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority identified seven Russian-sourced vodka brands: Beluga, Hammer & Sickle, Imperia, Mamont, Organika, Russian Standard, and Zyr.
Publix did not say when the alcohol will be taken away from their store shelves.