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March 4, 2022

Beverage brand owners in Russia – Why the silence? – comment

Condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine is not without its consequences

By Olly Wehring

The outbreak of hostilities – a weak way of saying ‘the invasion’ – by Russia towards Ukraine has put multinational brand owners in a very sticky position. Morally, the simple thing to do would be to join the worldwide wave of outrage and state in no uncertain terms a condemnation of the move.

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And yet, with the exception of SPI Group, there has been nothing. While many are talking about their humanitarian efforts in light of the subsequent refugee crisis, we’ve not yet received anything along the lines of Unilever’s statement late yesterday, in which CEO Alan Jope described Russia’s attacks as “a brutal act of war against a neighbouring sovereign country”.

If we take a breath, though – ‘a fast-moving situation’ doesn’t come close to describing the last week and a half – it’s hard to see how the multinationals with operations in Russia can, or necessarily should, do anything else.

Footage coming out of Russia highlights the treatment being meted out to members of the public opposing the invasion. With short shrift, those citizens are being pulled off the streets and taken away. Consider, then, the employees of, say, Diageo Russia, Pernod Ricard Russia and, more prolifically, Carlsberg’s Baltic Beverages Holding division.

From the relative luxury of London, Paris and Copenhagen, firing off a “senseless acts of violence being perpetrated” missive is easy. For those on the ground, however – and I’ve been told that some of the outspoken multinationals have had their Russian offices visited by authorities in recent days – such statements could have dire consequences.

This isn’t about business. It’s about doing the right thing by your employees and their families. Politicians would do well to consider that before piling into companies with Russian operations.

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What is the impact of China’s Zero-COVID lockdowns on economic activity, consumer goods and the foodservice industry?

While wanting to protect the country from being overwhelmed by Omicron, China’s adherence to a Zero-COVID policy is resulting in a significant economic downturn. COVID outbreaks in Shanghai, Beijing and many other Chinese cities will impact 2022’s economic growth as consumers and businesses experience rolling lockdowns, leading to a slowdown in domestic and international supply chains. China’s Zero-COVID policy is having a demonstrable impact on consumer-facing industries. Access GlobalData’s new whitepaper, China in 2022: the impact of China’s Zero-COVID lockdowns on economic activity, consumer goods and the foodservice industry, to examine the current situation in Shanghai and other cities in China, to better understand the worst-affected industry sectors, foodservice in particular, and to explore potential growth opportunities as China recovers. The white paper covers:
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  • What is the effect of lockdowns on foodservice?
  • What is the effect of lockdowns on Chinese ports?
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  • How have Chinese consumers reacted?
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