Aperol Spritz Faces Boycotts in Ukraine Over Perceived Links to Russia; Accused of Phony Lip Service
Like a phoenix from the boozy ashes, the Aperol Spritz has exploded to runaway success over the past year. Popularized by trendy Instragam feeds, brunch spots and TV shows, the cocktail has fast surpassed its Italian roots to cement itself as an international hit — handily increasing profits for Aperol-owner Campari Group.
In Ukraine, bartenders are telling a different story. A number of local businesses are now boycotting the drink, accusing Campari Group of false promises and profiteering amidst the ongoing war with Russia.
At the onset of the invasion, Campari announced that it had “reduced the business to the bare minimum necessary to pay the salaries of our colleagues” in Russia. Despite this, seemingly little has changed; the company reported increasing sales in the country throughout 2022, where annual revenue sits at $110 million.
Now, citizens are taking matters into their own hands. The Washington Post recently interviewed a group of bartenders in Kyiv who’ve scrubbed the word “Aperol” from their menus, destroyed branded merchandise and replaced cocktails with ethically sourced alternatives.
Campari is not alone. As with many industries, the contentious issue of importing and exporting to Russia has drawn clear sides among alcohol producers.
Earlier this week, Heineken sold the entirety of its nearly $325 million business in Russia for little over a dollar. In May, spirits giant Pernod Ricard — owner of Jameson Whiskey, Absolut Vodka, Beefeater Gin and more — halted exports to the country following widespread backlash.
Brands that choose to stay are able to reap the rewards.
Despite pledging to sever ties with Russia, Bacardi was recently declared a “war sponsor” by Ukrainian officials after it reported an 8.5% rise in Russian export revenue in 2022. Bacardi Limited is the largest privately held, family-owned spirits company in the world; the annual revenue increase was estimated at around $314 million.
Elsewhere, Indian gin and whiskey companies have moved in to replace departing Western brands, entering the market at pricing equal to their foreign-produced counterparts.
Even for brands that don’t intentionally increase operations, remaining in Russia has proved a lucrative opportunity in the absence of meaningful competition.
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