What is beer in Russia like?
Beer lovers never thought that over 90% of this drink in Russia didn’t conform to the classical technologies and plastic bottles, prohibiting in most countries – a domination packaging for beer in our country. It was stated by participants of the conference “Beer – classical technologies and transnational interpretation”, held last week in Moscow.
Is there beer in Russia?
By opinion of Alexander Mordovin, the President of Barley, Malt, Hops & Beer Union, beer shall be made of 100% brewers’ malt and natural hop without chemical enzymatic agents, according to German brewing standards of the year 1516. But in Russia these technologies are not observed.
Natural beer components: hop and malt are usually substituted for imitation. By viewpoint of Sergey Lisovsky, hop production in Russia reduced by tens of times because beer producers substituted it for a chemical extract – one more enzyme giving bitterish flavour. Also in Russia malt percentage in beer is not fixed in the legislation. In Czechia, minimum malt content is limited to 75%. We are trying to introduce the same bill in our country but lobbyists from international brewing companies prevent it.
A plastic container or PET was considered to be the key bane of the Russian brewing industry.
Firstly, it is harmful for health, that’s why PET use was kept to a minimum in foreign countries. According to Bio-Chemical Physics Institute named after N.M. Emanuel, upon contact with plastic and alcohol, a toxic agent dibutylphthalate escapes, causing toxic hepatitis, dysimmunity and other serious diseases. It has not been applied in Europe and the USA for a long time.
Secondly, plastic bottles don’t perform a function, concerning saving of the product quality during the expiration period. “Standard PET bottle is transparent to gases escaping outside and getting inside. According to the researches, a plastic bottle of beer blows off twice within six months of keeping, – explains Alexander Mordovin. – So, for compensation of carbon dioxide loss, beer is additionally carbonized and a bottle looks like an over inflated ball. Besides, beer shall not be carbonated artificially, only as a result of natural fermentation.
The third argument against PET lies in the sphere of economics. From one PET capsule, you can make 0,33l. bottle as well as 2,5l. By Pavel Shapkin’s opinion, the Chairman of the Consumer Rights Protection Union, near 60% of Russian beer is bottled to PET containers and the share of beer-based beverages is 95%. These products can be harmful for health and PET use leads to circulation of uncounted production. Budget losses are estimated at the level of 45 billion rub/year and as for pseudo-beer drinks – 180 billion rub.
Near 80% of the Russian brewing market is controlled by four international brewing companies from Denmark, Belgium, Holland and Great Britain. By opinion of Sergey Lisovsky, large players will be at a disadvantage if limits are introduced in Russia and they are trying to postpone it.
The brightest example is an opposition to PET prohibition bill, offered in 2013. According to this bill, sale of drinks with alcohol content over 4% in PET exceeding 0,5l. shall be prohibited and from January 1, 2016 – total PET ban.
In summer 2014, this bill was passed in the first reading and recommended for the second reading. But foreign brewers responded quickly and on behalf of Russian Brewers’ Union, an open letter to Dmitry Medvedev was published in the newspaper “Vedomosti”. Then there was a joint letter of Ambassadors from Denmark, Belgium and Netherlands to the Chairman of the State Duma Sergey Naryshkin, the Vice-Premier Igor Shuvalov, Arkady Dvorkovich and Alexander Khloponin with request to review the Government position towards PET prohibition. As a result the second reading has been postponed for several times.
And what situation is in other countries?
A correspondent of “MK” managed to talk with the President of EU Independent Brewers’ Union Roland Demleitner currently visited Beviale Moscow 2015.
According to his opinion, in Germany and other European countries, small and private breweries have a strong position while in Russia transnational companies dominate. Besides, there is another situation in the foreign packaging market: over 90% of beer is sold in glass bottles and cans, the rest is in PET. As a rule, it is cheap beer sold under brands of retail chains.
Alexander Mordovin defined more exactly that it was referred to innovative multilayer PET bottles having additional protective properties. In Russia this multilayer PET is not used at all. Besides, PET production for food in Europe is strictly regulated: there is a list of chemical components prohibited for use. It is also important fact that in Europe it is prohibited to bottle beer in large plastic containers: in Belgium – only 0,5l. PET, in France – 0,33l., in Italy – 0,33 and 0,66l., – gave a summary Alexander Mordovin.