UK: clear glass bottle shortage

UK supermarket Waitrose is selling rose wine in green glass, a departure from the usual practice of using clear bottles for rose and green glass for whites and reds. The move has been forced on the re…

UK supermarket Waitrose is selling rose wine in green glass, a departure from the usual practice of using clear bottles for rose and green glass for whites and reds. The move has been forced on the retailer by high energy prices and soaring demand for wine in the US and Asia; clear glass bottles are at a premium, and retailers simply cannot get enough of them. Waitrose“s French supplier will not deliver them until May 2008. Nick Rose, wine buyer for Waitrose, said glass bottles, particularly those in non-standard shapes and sizes, have become harder to obtain because of unusually strong global demand. “Producers have had to stand in line and wait for supplies”, he says. Glass manufacturers have also been raising their prices because of high energy costs. Energy accounts for about a quarter of the manufacturing cost of a glass bottle. A standard bottle costs about GBP 0.13, up from GBP 0.10 in 2007. Waitrose is considering PET as an alternative to glass. Supermarket Sainsbury started selling some of its own-brand Australian wines in PET bottles in 2007. James Croxson, chairman of Croxsons, a British glass bottle supplier, says he has refused an order for half a million mineral water bottles because he could not get enough clear glass. “I can“t get anything new until mid-2009”, he says, adding that he has been sourcing glass from Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam, far from his usual supplier in Ireland. While drinks majors such as Diageo have secured enough bottles to meet their needs by means of long-term contracts, smaller companies are missing out and are turning to plastic packaging instead, Mr Croxon said.