Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Georgian mineral water Borjomi may return to Russia

Georgian mineral water Borjomi may return to the Russian market, although Georgia and Russia could adjust to living without the supplies of this water. Russians drink their own mineral water, while former suppliers overcame the crisis and established deliveries to other countries. However, the previously popular mineral water may return to Russian stores soon.

Russia's Chief Sanitary Officer Gennady Onishchenko plans to have a meeting meet with a Georgian delegation in the beginning of February 2013 to discuss the return of Borjomi to Russia. The deliveries of the renowned mineral water from Georgia to Russia ended about seven years ago, when Russia banned the imports of the water from Georgia. The reason for the ban was a serious conflict in the Georgian-Russian relations.

Over the years, the parties solved their problems the way they could. Russia clearly did not suffer from the lack of mineral water, while Borjomi makers turned to other countries. Borjomi CEO Zaza Kikvadze stated that opening the Russian borders was still very important for IDS Borjomi Georgia, but it was not a priority. The company established deliveries to other countries, even to such exotic destinations as China and Japan.

Nevertheless, in early 2013, due to a warming of political relations between the two countries, chances for the Georgian product to return to Russian stores have become a reality. Gennady Onishchenko, the head of Rospotrebnadzor, plans to hold talks with the Georgian side on February 4th. After the meeting, the head of Rospotrebnadzor intends to pay a return visit to negotiate the issues related to the supplies of the product.

According to Kiknadze, the ban on the supply of water to Russia was for "a good lesson" and a stimulus for development for the company. Having lost more than half of its sales, the company adopted a plan with three priorities: expanding the brand portfolio, diversification of sales channels and aggressive marketing. By 2010, IDS had been able to completely overcome the crisis.

"We are no longer dependent on a single country," RBC quoted the president of the company. In addition, the company has handed over a part of its shares - 56% - to Russia's Alfa Group. One may expect that Russian regulators will become much more compliant.

As noted by KM.ru, the assets cost Alfa nearly $300 million. There are no doubts about the fact that the interest of Russian large companies in Borjomi and the amount spent is not based on only rumors and speculation. Borjomi is going to return to Russia indeed.

This brand has been fairly comfortable in Russia since czarist times. In the event the water returns to the Russian market, the company will adhere to aggressive market policies, said Kikvadze. The company does not have a concept for the advertising campaign yet, though. All questions on the promotion, pricing, etc, will be dealt with, when the Russian market finally opens for the Georgian water.

The Russian embargo on Borjomi and Georgian wines has been in effect since 2006.

Artyom Chernyavsky.