Russia\'s planned ban on beer in plastic bottles expected to hit Belarusian breweries hard

Russia\'s State Duma gave first-reading approval to a draft law providing for the ban.

Russia's plans to ban beer in plastic bottles will hit the Belarusian brewing industry hard, experts said in an interview with BelaPAN.

Earlier this month, Russia's State Duma gave first-reading approval to a draft law providing for the ban.

Yawhen Maryushych, of the Belarusian State Food Industry Concern, warned that if the ban was introduced Belarus' beer exports to Russia would fall by 10 percent in the first quarter of 2015 and by 30 percent in the second quarter.

More than $100 million was spent by Belarusian breweries on the introduction of the plastic bottle as the main packaging format for beer, according to the expert.

"If they make the decision we will have to modernize our equipment again," he said, adding that the country's breweries would have to sell their equipment for placing beer in plastic bottles "dirt cheap."

"Transnational corporations will find life hard but they will survive, while small and state-owned breweries in Belarus will experience very tough times, especially if there's no government support," predicted Mr. Maryushych.

Tatsyana Hirs, head of the marketing department at Minsk-based Krynitsa, noted that the state-owned brewery was very concerned about the planned ban. "This decision will affect not only our exports," she warned. "Practice shows that what is introduced in Russia is inevitably adopted by Belarus six months later."

Audrius Miksys, director general of Lidskaye Piva, a brewery owned by Finland's Olvi, described the ban as unfounded and ill-considered and stressed that plastic bottles had been found to pose no threat to human health.

If the ban comes into force in Russia its breweries will seek to sell out their stockpiles of beer in plastic bottles elsewhere, including in Belarus, he warned.

"Our exports to Russia will stop. We have no equipment to place all of our beer into glass bottles. By the way, Belarus' glass industry doesn't have the capacity to satisfy breweries' needs in full," said the manager.