Non-refillable PET bottles are becoming increasingly popular in the Czech Republic and are in fact driving growth in almost every drinks category there, according to a new report from drinks industry analysts Canadean.
Sales of packaged beverages in the Czech Republic rose by more than 7 per cent last year, Canadean said, helped by double digit increases in demand for all soft drinks, except juice/nectars and squash/syrups. Non-refillable PET bottles now account for almost two thirds of beer and soft drinks packaging there.
In the largest product sector, carbonates, demand rose by more than 12 per cent during 2002. Since consumers are buying both for 'on the go' consumption and in bulk, all non-refillable PET sizes contributed to this growth, which is predicted to continue at above the average level for packaged beverages this year, the report said.
But if PET sales are growing, it is at the expense of refillable glass, whose percentage fall in share was almost exactly matched by non-refillable PET's increase.
On the other hand, both beverage and packaging trends were bucked by the second largest sector: beer. Bottled beer lost a small amount of sales due to strong exports, but non-refillable glass showed a healthy increase of 6 per cent. Although can volume was up almost 5 per cent and the trend is expected to continue, the historical popularity of beer sold in crates will help ensure that refillable glass's share will remain strong - in the region of four fifths of the total pack mix, the report said.
Packaged water, currently the third largest sector, is expected to supplant beer and move into second place during the course of this year, Canadean said, providing a somewhat marginal boost for PET which already accounts for over 90 per cent of sales. Still packaged water, which represents more than a fifth of water fillings, is sold exclusively in PET at the moment.
Still drinks registered the fastest growth last year with fillings up more than 40 per cent. This was fuelled by many new brands, mainly in multivitamin flavours and sold in large non-refillable PET packages. Non-refillable PET now accounts for nearly 70 per cent of pack mix. Strong growth is expected due to the plethora of local brands, competitive pricing and convenience.
Looking to the future, Canadean's 2003 Czech Republic Beverage Packaging Report claims that PET's rise is likely to be unabated for the foreseeable future, since apart from the brewers, the beverage industry has heavily invested in non-refillable PET technology since the mid 1990s, thus making plastic a widely used and viable material for non-refillable packs.
Refillable glass will continue to keep a strong presence, entirely due to its traditional role in beer and mineral water packaging, the decline of which has been halted by the new packaging law introduced in January 2002 requiring supermarkets to have returnable facilities.