Sainsbury’s renames chicken kievs and pulls Russian-made vodka

UK’s second-biggest supermarket switches Soviet-era spelling of capital city to Ukrainian version

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First published on Fri 4 Mar 2022 09.33 EST

Sainsbury’s is renaming its chicken kiev to chicken kyiv and is joining Waitrose and Morrisons in withdrawing a Russian-made vodka from the shelves in the latest action by British retailers to signal solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

The UK’s second-biggest supermarket said the packaging for the poultry dish would change in the next few weeks, switching the Soviet-era name for the country’s capital for the Ukrainian version.

The move comes after several smaller operators announced a switch to chicken kyiv, including the Better Naked brand and Essex-based Our Local Butcher. Marks & Spencer, which popularised the dish in the UK after making chicken kiev one of the first ready meals in 1979, has also come under pressure to rename the dish.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said: “We stand united with the people of Ukraine. We have reviewed our product range and have decided to remove from sale all products that are 100% sourced from Russia.

“This means that from today we will no longer sell two products – Russian standard vodka and Karpayskiye black sunflower seeds.”

Sainsbury’s said it had also reviewed JJ Whitley products, a range of vodkas and other spirits made in Russia. It said those would continue to be sold in its supermarkets as the drinks company had said it was moving all production to Chorley in Lancashire by the end of this month.

Waitrose said on Friday it would be removing one Russian vodka while its sister department store chain John Lewis will remove a line of pizza oven pellets that are sourced from Russia.

The latest action came after the Co-op and Morrisons also removed Russian vodka from sale.

Carmen Bryan, the consumer analyst at GlobalData, said: “Governments have been implementing sanctions however, it is interesting to see similar moves from the wider public and independent businesses.

“GlobalData’s survey reveals that brand loyalty is heavily influenced by alignment to one’s values. This puts Russian vodka brands in a precarious position, as prolonged conflict will not only damage immediate sales, but may also cause permanent disillusionment against Russian commodities in the long-term.”

The removal of Russian vodka from supermarket shelves comes after M&S suspended shipments to its franchisee’s business in Russia on Thursday.

It joined a rush of western firms halting operations in Russia, including Swedish furnishings retailer Ikea, which announced it had temporarily closed all stores and factories across the country in a move affecting 15,000 workers.

On Friday, JD Sports, which sells to Russia via its website, said it was joining British online retailers Boohoo and Asos in suspending sales in the country.

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