SABMiller, United Breweries look to used bottles

SABMiller, United Breweries look to used bottles

India's largest brewers, United Breweries and SABMiller, have started patenting glass bottles as they look to curb the cost of manufacturing new bottles through buying back used ones.

Shekhar Ramamurthy, deputy president of United Breweries, said that the company used second-hand bottles for more than 75% of its bottling. This makes up around 40% of the brewer's annual sales cost.

Patenting the bottles will stop them from being used by other bottlers and improve brand identity, he said late last week.

Both United Breweries and SABMiller source used bottles through middlemen and the market has seen almost a 30% increase within the past year.

But, market experts say the second-hand bottle industry is unorganised and middlemen hoard bottles. Second-hand bottle prices have risen by 30% in the last two years and cost between INR3.5-5 (US$0.1) per bottle, although manufacturing a new bottle costs INR8.5.