Americans embrace Ukraine beers

Most sales so far made to those with Ukrainian roots

Sept 22, 2000 - Ukraine's breweries have found a new market -- the United States.


The country's top two beer breweries - the Kiev-based Obolon brewery and Zaporizhya's Slavutych brewery - have even entered the American beer market in the past year, with both companies boasting significant exports - most of which supply a dedicated following of beer drinkers with Ukrainian roots. Immigrants of both Ukrainian, Russian and Jewish descent make up most of the drinkers.

Obolon has moved more quickly to establish foreign markets, and is now available in Russia, Germany, Israel, as well as in Asian and African countries.

According to Mykhailo Zelenko of Obolon export specialist, the brewery exports almost 2 million bottles per week to Russia, which has forced Moscow to draft an import tariff on beer that is expected to be imposed early next year. He added that while Russia is its largest market outside of Ukraine, the European market is growing steadily, with Germany buying almost 500,000 bottles since the beginning of this year.

Slavutych, which has pumped $49 million in foreign investments into new technology since 1996, targeted the U.S. market first, with its first exports arriving in the United States last November.

"The fact that Ukrainian beer has already made it to America is proof of its quality and taste," said Ihor Tovkach, general director at Slavutych.

Beer from both breweries can currently be bought in around 20 states - including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and California - all of which have large populations of Ukrainian immigrants. Both breweries say that they will distribute in all 50 states and Canada by the end of 2001.

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