America's Largest Grocery Chain Is Pulling This Item From Shelves Amid Backlash
Nearly nine million people around the U.S. choose to do their shopping at Kroger every day, at more than 2,800 stores in 35 states. It's no surprise then that Kroger ranks as the largest supermarket chain in the country by revenue. From friendly customer service to a wide selection of fresh and organic foods, the grocer's loyal shoppers know exactly what they'll find there. But don't expect to find one item in the near future: Kroger just announced that it has pulled a popular product from all of its stores. Read on to find out what you can no longer find at Kroger.
Kroger has removed all Russian vodka from its stores.
You might notice something missing from Kroger's shelves the next time you go shopping. The Cincinnati-based grocery chain confirmed that it has pulled all Russian-produced vodka from its stores, NBC-affiliate WLWT in Cincinnati, Ohio, reported on March 1.
"As America's grocer, we're taking action to show our support and solidarity with Ukraine," Kroger tweeted from the official Kroger News Twitter account. "Over the weekend, we removed Russian-produced vodka from our shelves."
The grocery chain is making additional moves to support Ukraine.
Kroger isn't stopping at just removing Russian vodka from its stores. The grocery chain also announced it is "sending emergency food assistance to support refugees" through a monetary grand from The Kroger Co. Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Foundation, a charity the grocery company started in 2018. The grant will be given to the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme's Ukraine Emergency Fund.
Kroger is planning to match donations from others as well. "We will match all gifts made by our associates and customers, up to $250,000," the chain noted in its tweets.
Kroger is not the only business banning this alcohol.
Other companies are making efforts to show solidarity with Ukraine amid the ongoing war. Total Wine & More announced on Feb. 28 that it had removed all Russian-made products from its store "in support of the Ukrainian people," the beverage company said. The retailer has placed a placard that notifies customers about the removal of these products on empty shelves.
And officials around the U.S. are taking a stand as well. According to The Wall Street Journal, at least 11 states including Oregon, North Carolina, and West Virginia have banned the sale of Russian-made alcohol from government liquor stores as of March 1.
The U.S. does not import a large amount of alcohol from Russia.
Many of these bans and removals are merely symbolic and are unlikely to have a large monetary effect, Reuters reported. As it turns out, only 1.2 percent of the country's vodka imports actually came from Russia in the first half of 2021 and Russian vodka accounted for just $18.5 million of the $1.4 billion worth of total vodka imports for the U.S. last year, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. In comparison, France accounted for $660 million, as reported by the council.
The Wall Street Journal reports that most of the state bans only apply to three alcohol brands: Russian Standard, Hammer & Sickle, and Ustianochka. Smirnoff and Stolichnaya are popular vodkas with Russian names but are not owned or produced by Russia, so they should not be affected by the restrictions. The Stoli Group behind the Stolichnaya brand recently spoke out against the attack on Ukraine and told CNN that it "unequivocally condemns the military action in Ukraine and stands ready to support the Ukrainian people, [their] teams and partners."
This story has been reprinted with permission from Best Life.