Valio latest food firm to pull out of Russia

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Valio has pulled out of Russia, the latest in a string of withdrawals from the country by food and drink firms
Valio has pulled out of Russia, the latest in a string of withdrawals from the country by food and drink firms

Related tags: Dairy, Export

Valio has announced it will end business operations in Russia in defiance against the country’s invasion of Ukraine, with immediate effect.

The manufacturer has joined a growing number of food and drink firms that have pulled out of the country since conflict began last month. Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever, Starbucks and McDonald's have all either paused, or cut back on, operations in Russia​.

Chief executive Annikka Hurme said: “We strictly condemn Russia’s attack on independent Ukraine. Ethically, Valio cannot continue operations in Russia; therefore, we are ending business operation in Russia.” 

Exports suspended  

Last week saw Valio stop all exports from Finland to Russia and Belarus, with imports of ingredients and packaging materials from Russia to Finland stopped soon after. 

It operates one processed cheese factory near Moscow, as well as contract manufacturing partners and sales offices in St. Petersburg and in Moscow.  

The manufacturer employs about 400 people in Russia and has recorded annual sales of about €85m (£70.6m) in the country. Valio’s subsidiary in Russia is 100% Finnish-owned by Valio. 

Valio’s announcement that it was to pull out of Russia followed a similar announcement from Halewood Artisanal Spirits last week. 

Back to the UK​ 

The drinks firm said it was to move production of its JJ Whitley Vodka back to the UK with immediate effect, with British made spirits expected to be on store shelves by the end of March.  

A spokesman for Halewood Group said: “We have expressed our support to our Ukrainian customers, our largest export market. Out of respect for the situation, we have removed all references to the ‘Remarkably Russian’ campaign across all our JJ Whitley communications.” 

The Co-op and Morrisons have removed Russian vodka from shelves, while Marks & Spencer has suspended shipments to its Turkish franchisee's Russian business and offered millions of pounds in aid to Ukrainian refugees and families affected by the war. 

Meanwhile, craft breweries, cider makers, wineries, and drinkers across Europe are coming together for a series of events throughout March to raise funds and show solidarity for friends and peers in Ukraine. 

Related topics: Dairy, Operations

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