Heineken turns to kvass as russian beer market dries up

KvassHeineken turns to kvass: With Russian demand for beer in decline, Dutch brewer Heineken has begun producing the traditional bread-based and (extremely) low-alcohol kvass drink to take up the slack at four of its breweries in the country. Beer production in Russia has fallen by 30% over the past five years as Russians cut their beer consumption in response to the economic downturn and laws aimed at curbing alcoholism, including the ban on selling beer in outdoor kiosks, restrictions on advertising and higher excise duties. Heineken saw its own beer sales plummet by 10% in the first quarter of 2016 alone.
Demand for kvass, by contrast, grew by 11% in the first six months of last year. “[Breweries] across the sector are underutilised by an average of 40%, and that is about the same in our plants,” Heineken’s director of corporate relations in Russia Kirill Bolmatov said. “The technology for kvass production is similar to beer, and so the company has not had to make any additional investments in equipment,” he added.