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Kvass is a traditional Slavic and Baltic beverage commonly made from rye bread , known in many Eastern European countries and especially in Ukraine and Russia as black bread. The colour of the bread used contributes to the colour of the resulting drink. It is classified as a non-alcoholic drink by Russian standards, as the alcohol content from fermentation is typically low (0.5–1.0%). It may be flavoured with fruits such as strawberries and raisins, or with herbs such as mint.
It is especially popular in most of the North Slavic countries, including Poland, and Serbia, but not the Czech Republic or Slovakia. It is also known in the Baltic countries Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Kvass is also well known throughout Mongolia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Armenia. Many kvass vendors there sell the drink in the streets. Kvass is also popular in Harbin and Xinjiang, China, where Russian culture has had an influence.
Although the introduction of western soft drinks such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi had reduced the commercial sale of kvass in Russia, kvass has been more recently marketed as a "patriotic" alternative to cola, sparking a "kvass revival". For example, the Russian company Nikola (by coincidence its name sounds like "not cola" in Russian) has promoted its brand of kvass with an advertising campaign emphasizing "anti cola-nisation." Moscow-based Business Analytica reported in 2008 that bottled kvass sales had tripled since 2005 and estimated that per-capita consumption of kvass in Russia would reach three liters in 2008. Between 2005 and 2007, cola's share of the Moscow soft drink market fell from 37% to 32%. Meanwhile, kvass' share more than doubled over the same time period, reaching 16% in 2007. In response, Coca-Cola launched its own brand of kvass in May 2008. This is the first time a foreign company has made an appreciable entrance into the Russian kvass market. Pepsi has also signed an agreement with a Russian kvass manufacturer to act as a distribution agent. The development of new technologies for storage and distribution, and heavy advertising, have contributed to this surge in popularity; three new major brands have been introduced since 2004.
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