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Russian brewers issue warning after plastic bottle deal

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Brewers in Russia are to scrap their 1.5-litre PET bottle lines despite warning the move will drive consumers to illegal alcohol.

The Union of Russian Brewers, which represents companies including Heineken and Carlsberg, said yesterday its members will voluntarily discontinue the bottle size from 1 July 2016. The total Russian market share of beer affected is about 24%, according to Nielsen figures.

The deal follows a voluntary agreement from January 2014 to scrap 2.5-litre plastic bottles and two-litre bottles with beer over 6% abv. However, the union said there are “no objective reasons” for limiting bottle sizes and that it is “counteractive” to recent government attempts to lower alcohol consumption.

“Therefore, these measures will push some consumers to switching to illegal cheap strong alcohol,” the union said.

Russian authorities have increased duty on beer in the past two years and imposed constraints on alcohol advertising and retail in a bid to combat high levels on alcoholism in the country.

Consumption has declined, causing challenges for domestic and foreign brewers. Earlier this year, Carlsberg closed two of its Russian breweries.

PET packaging for beer is common in Russia and is used across many different brands and sizes by all players. Carlsberg's best-selling Baltika has a 1.5-litre line as does the company's Arsenalnoe brand.

The Union of Russian Brewers said yesterday it expects the new agreement “will put an end to the long discussion around PET packaging regulation”.
“We hope that now we will be able to join our efforts with the state authorities and focus on solving real problems related to alcohol abuse,” it added.


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