Responding to Russia, Food Businesses Rethink Product Assortment, Logistics

Grubhub, Robot, Delivery, University of Arizona, Yandex

As businesses across industries boycott Russia in response to the Ukraine invasion, food and beverage businesses are making changes to everything from product assortment to last-mile fulfillment.

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Grubhub, for one, is canceling its contract with Yandex through which the food delivery services had used the Russian technology giant’s delivery robots for autonomous order fulfillment at The Ohio State University, student publication The Lantern reported Wednesday (March 2).

Read also: Grubhub Teams With Yandex to Bring Robot Delivery to Universities

“We take seriously our commitment to the universities that we partner with — and ultimately the student diners who order from the Grubhub platform — to make food ordering and delivery available on campus,” Grubhub spokesperson Katie Norris reportedly told the outlet in an email.

As Grubhub pulls its delivery robots, many bars, restaurants and retailers are pulling Russian products. Some are doing so in response to legislative action or pressure. For instance, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed an executive order Saturday (Feb. 26) mandating that wine and liquor sellers remove items made in Russia or bearing the names of Russian brands from their shelves, Manchester, New Hampshire’s ABC affiliate WMUR reported Sunday (Feb. 27).

“We see what’s happening,” Sununu said, according to the outlet. “People are losing their lives. It’s unprovoked aggression, and if we can get New Hampshire to do their part and take these products off of the Russian shelves — I don’t know anyone buying that garbage right now, frankly — it’s a good thing and it’s a step we can make.”

Other states’ governors are making similar appeals and orders. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that he has asked the state’s restaurant association, among other trade organizations, to “remove all Russian products.”

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, meanwhile, requested that authorities boycott Russian liquor.

“I support the [President Joe] Biden administration’s efforts to implement aggressive sanctions that punish Russia and cripple its economy, and I call on the State Liquor and Lottery Commission to delist Russian-made vodka in Maine and ask that retailers join us in this symbolic but clear sign that Maine stands with Ukraine,” she said, according to an official State of Maine news release.

Conversely, some businesses are removing products of their own initiative, outside of pressure from legislators. For instance, Lakeland, Florida-based supermarket chain Publix Super Markets, which has roughly 1,300 stores across seven states, has removed Russian-made vodkas from its stores, the company announced Wednesday, per a report from West Palm Beach, Florida’s NBC affiliate WPTV.

“Publix stands with the people of Ukraine,” the company said in a statement. “To show our support, we have decided to remove Russian-made vodka brands from our shelves. This is inclusive of all our liquor stores.”

Meanwhile, other businesses are making changes that are more cosmetic. Rolling Stone reported that restaurants have been changing their names or changing names of menu items to remove their association with Russian culture.