Russia passes law limiting beer bottle size to 1.5 liter

Fri Jun 10, 2016 12:13pm EDT
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian lawmakers on Friday passed a law limiting the size of a plastic beer bottle to no more than 1.5 liter.

The restrictions apply to beer and all other alcoholic beverages and come into effect on Jan. 1, 2017, for industrial production and from July 1, 2017, for retail sales.

The long-debated move, part of the government's efforts to curb drinking, adds to pressure on brewers whose sales have been falling in Russia over the past several years due to sales and advertising restrictions and tax hikes.

An economic recession has aggravated the slump, with leading brewers such as Carlsberg and Anheuser-Busch InBev being forced to reduce capacity or shut Russian plants.

Brewers in Russia sell nearly half their beer in plastic bottles, which are cheaper than glass, and bottles larger than 1.5 liters account for more than 20 percent of all beer sold in Russia, according to the Union of Russian Brewers's estimates.

Alcohol abuse causes around 500,000 premature deaths in Russia annually, according to Russia's consumer watchdog. Alcohol consumption in Russia remains among the highest in the world but in recent years consumption of beer had been increasing per capita.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

Bottles of Carlsberg beer are seen in fridge in a bar in St. Petersburg June 17, 2014.   REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk/File Photo