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Beer: food or alcoholic beverage?

In Russia, beer was long considered a food rather than an alcoholic beverage. We tell you a little about this historical fact.

It took years before beer was recognized as an alcoholic beverage in Russia, a struggle led by President Dmitry Medvedev since he came to power. In 2011, he sought to enact a law to change this situation, which took effect two years later.

With alcohol abuse as the main cause, Medvedev decided to take action to recognize beer as an alcoholic beverage long considered a food. In early 2010, alcohol consumption in Russia was twice the limit recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Annual per capita beer consumption in Russia between 1963 and 2019 once reached an all-time high in 2007 at approximately five liters per capita, consumption levels gradually declined, reaching 3.04 liters per year in 2019.

It was only after the first year of his term in office that Medvedev sought to enact laws to reduce alcohol abuse among the Russian population.

It was on July 20, 2011 that the government enacted the law recognizing the beverage as alcohol and not a simple food or soft drink. Being a product with less than 10% alcohol it was considered as a food and nothing more and to fight against abuses it was important to change the status of this drink. The bill also aimed to monitor the sale of beer and other alcoholic beverages, especially spirits.

The sale of alcohol of less than 10% was exercised somewhat freely due to its status and since the enactment of the law in 2013, the sale of alcohol was prohibited in unlicensed stores and at certain times, from 11 pm to 8 am. In addition, the measure restricted beer advertising both outdoors and on television, beer could not be drunk in parks and streets, and the sale became equally illegal in the vicinity of educational and sports institutions for children.

During the 2000s, beer recorded sales of over 40%, supposedly because of its healthier character compared to beverages such as vodka. In 2010, in order to dominate the market, the government raised taxes on the beer industry by 200%.

At the same time, the effect of the law should not be underestimated. Nowadays, it is rare to see people drinking beer on the street and most likely if they do, the police will intervene.


Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.


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