Pavel Dvořáček, majority owner of the Rudolf Jelínek company, which is the largest producer of fruit distillates in the world, is clear: the Ukrainian army is also fighting Putin’s aggressive Russia for us. Therefore, the company not only stopped exporting its alcohol to Russia, but also financially supported the direct purchase of weapons for the Ukrainian army.
With the exception of petroleum products or natural gas, it is not easy to find a Russian product liable to be boycotted. Pavel Dvořáček did not notice that, at least symbolically, people would start ignoring vodka, which is considered a Russian national drink. Also because Rudolf Jelínek only plays a small role in the company’s product range. “Vodka is not an important product for us at all. Our biggest market for vodka is Slovakia, especially eastern Slovakia,” says MakroMixér (it is prepared by HlídacíPes.org Editor-in-Chief Robert Břešťan and Patria Finance Chief Economist Jan Bureš).
We wondered if in an effort to boycott Russian products, consumer reaction to vodka in general v
The alcohol trade is not that simple and supplies cannot be completely cut off overnight. Because you have pre-imported stamps and control tapes from which excise duty is already paid, so in order not to commit tax offenses, we always “sold” products to Ukraine and to Russia, but then we stopped exporting to Russia. Although we have a 10% stake in a company, we have joined the general trend of isolating Russia – both for companies and for staff. From a business perspective, it averages around $1 million over several years.
It is not negligible.
It’s not a small number, but we see it as one of the things we can contribute to. Moreover, at the beginning of the conflict, we clearly decided that not only would we contribute to trade barriers, but as a company we paid one million crowns into the account of the Ukrainian Embassy. We thought we could contribute medicine, bandages and humanitarian aid as individuals, but as a company we clearly defined ourselves and assumed that weapons were also bought with this money, and we let’s hope they will be used in this way because the de facto Ukrainian army there is also fighting for us.
The Ukrainian Embassy does not hide that it buys weapons, ammunition and other necessary military equipment on the market for this money. But will the conflict affect you in other ways, for example in terms of imports of raw materials from Ukraine – fruits, grains for your production?
Fortunately, we don’t need grain, we buy ready-made alcohol here in the Czech Republic. For example, in terms of plum imports, Ukraine does for us a maximum of 5% of imports per year. But if I look at it from a macroeconomic point of view, our business sector will also be strongly affected by the fact that the war affects one of the largest cereal producers in Europe, and this will affect with a certain delay the price of alcohol. Another aspect is that in Ukraine there are large glass factories, bottle suppliers, and even these inputs are becoming more expensive. In addition, historically, the price of glass represents approximately 35% of the price of gas. When the Ukrainian glassworks shut down, the process of restarting will be very expensive, in the order of tens or even hundreds of millions of crowns.
What other impacty from your point of view inin Ukraine She’ll have?
When we talk about agricultural raw materials, fertilizers are the most important. Although cereals are already about three times more expensive than last year, in my opinion this is still a low figure, because these cereals were still grown with cheap fertilizers. Today, farmers buy fertilizers that are about six times more expensive, and some fertilizers are not available at all because many chemical factories have reduced or stopped production due to high gas prices. Even the fruits that interest us the most will therefore have a lower yield and will be much more expensive. Of course, we are bothered by the shortage of labor in agriculture, but it is already a long-term situation.
And he can’t for this workforce simply help the arrival of refugees from Ukraine? AND when you say right nowEme that it is often educated people who could prospect in other segments of the economy than agriculture…
We have yet to notice this interest. As a company, we have long tried to work primarily locally, with local people. By the way, their salaries have roughly doubled in the last ten years. In any case, we must go down the path of greater automation and mechanization. Today we are the largest plum producer in the Czech Republic, we have a total of about 200 hectares of various orchards and we are already able to harvest up to 80% of the crop automatically.
Protectorate Kosher Plum Brandy
Rudolf Jelínek grew up during the First Republic to sell kosher plum brandy in the United States. Is it still valid?
We are still the largest producer of kosher alcohol products in the world, we have the highest certifications, including those for ultra-Orthodox Jews. Incidentally, the company has not interrupted its deliveries to the United States since 1934, when the American prohibition ended. So even in World War II, because even the Nazis didn’t stink of dollars – even in the middle of World War II, we exported kosher plum brandy in large volumes. Despite the fact that the Jews, our fellow citizens, were murdered at the same time. It’s weird, but it’s true. It was the same under communism, when Rudolf Jelínek was a major exporter to the foreign exchange world, because even for communists, dollars had their charm and value.
FORsince we have already encountered the story, I know that you were very interested and touched by the life story of Rudolf Jelínek and the fate of Jewish families in Vizovice. A V MYou also donated slivovice to the Klárov in Prague. Can you remember this fate?
I must say that in addition to the bond that we are a company that strives to care for and cultivate the landscape and develop the traditions, it was the bond that attracted me to the company and made me internally linked. I have always been interested in history, but when I discovered it little by little, when I learned about the fate of the distillers of Vizovice, I perceived this as a huge lesson for all of us. Even in light of the war in Ukraine, this is something we need to remember every day in order to approach life with humility. Of the 72 Jewish residents, all from distilling families, only six survived World War II.
As for the museum in Slivovice, you opened it after an expensive reconstruction, just before the first wave of covid broke out. And now – is it a litmus test that the world, thought after covid, returns to normal, that tourists also return?
It’s a good litmus test. It was a huge investment for us, not only financially but also personally. We opened in February 2020 and had to close in two weeks. High expectations, it was zero. It can now be seen that some tourists are returning to Prague. It is incomparable with the situation in 2019 and before, but it is more optimistic. But there is also a different structure of visitors. There are more tourists from destinations accessible by car, plus there are many tourists from Spain and Italy. But regarding covid, I would like to say one thing… I think as a state and a society we couldn’t do one thing – I expected some sort of correction, settlement of values of life. Slow down, you’ll have to think. But I have to say my least pleasant impression of covid is that it has gotten extremely worse. As a result, everyone feels that they have the right to be well and that someone must meet their needs, take care of them, whether it is the State or the company.
The previous government went a long way against this…
It’s true, I’m disappointed. If today in the tragic situation with Ukraine I am looking for something positive – perhaps I am once again a great idealist – I hope that an improvement in values between people and society can take place. I see that the company wants to help a lot and I want it to last as long as possible. We are in a situation where, without any discussion, we are all going to have to tighten our belts, and I would not want even more populists to catch it than those who ruled here until recently. Now, on the contrary, I see that we finally have a Prime Minister who acts and decides on values. It is a very important thing.
Listen to the entire conversation on all available podcast apps (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and Google Podcast). It was not only about the effects of the war, but also about climate change, the cultivation of pears in Chile, taxes and the adoption of the euro.
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