Sales of Liviko's 80 percent vodka increased ninefold in March ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Strong liquor for sale in a supermarket.
Strong liquor for sale in a supermarket. Source: Anna Aurelia Minev/ERR

Liviko sold nine times its 80 percent vodka in March, but the company is not considering switching to disinfectant production, as some others have in Europe. At the same time, Estonian Spirit, which was planning to relocate all of its production to Moe, is rapidly preparing to restart its Rakvere distillery due to high demand.

Due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), disinfectants have become a popular item on store shelves throughout Estonia and have also increase in price. Liviko's 80 percent vodka has also become a sought after item and increased its sales.

Janek Kalvi, Chairman of the Liviko Management Board, to ERR said: "We have been producing it for years and really, we must admit that in March we sold it nine times more than usual,"

He added that 80 percent vodka is an effective disinfectant, but because it is subject to a high excise duty, it is more expensive than conventional disinfectants. But, now the prices of disinfectants have risen significantly the price gap has narrowed.

To meet consumer expectations, the company is also launching a 100-ml bottle that to make it easier for people to carry with them.

Liviko has not considered starting to produce disinfectants. Kalvi explained the company produces beverages and, as their large tanks are full of spirits, they are not able to quickly switch to the production of household chemicals or disinfectants. 

This production process would need new bottles and packaging which the company does not have in stock and which would take at least two weeks to a month to find.

"The other thing is, we have no way of denaturing a beverage spirit. Because we are a producer of high-quality beverages, we are even forbidden to have the chemicals. Our factory does not handle any kind of chemical denaturation to avoid any risk. There are no drops of methanol in the factory," he said.

Kalvi added there has been a huge increase in demand for disinfectants, but many companies are already satisfying it this need, and according to his information, there should be no shortage in Estonia. If this happens it will only be temporary and shouldn't last more than a few days.

The state has not contacted the company for help, but Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab has said he has been in contact with Kalvi for a consultation to get an overview of the situation. However, if the need arose for the Liviko to help the state it would certainly do so.

Estonian Spirit OÜ to reopen Rakvere plant

The only spirit producer in Estonia, Estonian Spirit OÜ, ceased operations at its Rakvere distillery last year and was planning to move all production to another unit of the company in Moe village, but because of the sanitizer shortage the company has now changed its plans.

Sven Ivanov, one of the owners of the company, said the dismantling of the plant had already begun, but now it needs to be reopened as a matter of urgency and the people who were made redundant can be re-employed. Initially, the company wanted to restart the plant next week, but it is currently unclear exactly when this will happen.

Once the spread of coronavirus has subsided, Estonian Spirit is still planning to move into full production for Moe. At present, however, there is no spirit to take anywhere.

"If the factory is not reopened, the availability of spirits will still be very low. The price of spirits have risen so that it makes sense for us to start production again," said Ivanov. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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