SALT LAKE CITY — Russian-made vodka is starting to get cleared off state liquor store shelves in Utah, and the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity is reviewing what other products could be the next to go.
“Trying to disrupt the entire supply chain in a weekend is a very tough thing to do, so we’re really trying to be thoughtful about how we go through this process,” said office deputy director Ben Hart.
After Gov. Spencer Cox issued an executive order Saturday, Hart’s team spent the weekend looking into Utah’s economic relationships with Russia in case any products or contracts need to end. The office is working with the state purchasing office and other individual agencies to pinpoint “touchpoints” the governor can review himself to make an executive order.
“It’s to make sure that we understand,” Hart said. “That’s what this process is all about: Where are we doing business?”
As of right now, the only product the DABC has removed so far is Russian-Standard Vodka. The state is currently working to identify other vodkas that are Russian-produced.
“There’s a lot to sort through. I think the state is being very thoughtful in how it approaches issues related to alcohol sales or brands that may be from Russia,” said Hart.
Russia plays a major role in the production of oil and petroleum that will leave major impacts worldwide.
“We’re still trying to understand exactly how that impacts the state of Utah and where we may be using those products and services,” said Hart. “We also need to understand that they may be with our vendors, and we have to understand very complex relationships.”
He said it’s too early right now to determine the financial impact that pulling Russian-made alcohol will have on Utah but he hopes the act itself sends a message.
“Even if at the end of this process we’re just sending the right signal, we still feel like it’s a worthwhile exercise,” he said.