GB No. 2(17)/95
Competition on the beverage market is getting fiercer. Most of the fruit juice market has been captured by juice in the aluminium/paper/plastic packaging of Tetra-Pak. They are used by Hortex, Czempin and Fortuna from Lowicz. Other producers only count for a small part of the market. Among them are such firms as Patrick SA, which sells juice in foil-coated disposable bottles. Helena from Kalisz produces juice in non-standard glass packaging, which raise the price of the product considerably. Baritpol from Nowy Sącz produces juice both in small, returnable bottles and, more often, in cartons. Tymbark is successful only as a producer of blackcurrant juice. Unfortunately, it uses cans and small glass bottles of Bobo-Frut type. In Milejów most beverages are poured into returnable glass bottles but the producer is important only in south-east Poland.
Tarczyn, whose position in Mazowsze is very secure with the brand products of Pty and Tarczynianka, launched expensive juice onto the market last year. Although in the beginning it was sold in bottles of 0.3l capacity, disposable and non-standard bottles have appeared, too.
The above paragraphs show that those who use packaging which are harmful to the environment and more expensive, are successful, unfortunately. Although they pay no tax on their packaging (e. g. Tetra-Pak) their products are more expensive than beverages in returnable glass bottles. As a result firms which used to produce juice in returnable bottles (e. g. Milejów and Tymbark) started to look for other packaging. In November 1994, during the "Poland Now" fair, Tymbark presented juice in cartons and started to put its juice into disposable glass bottles of 0.2l capacity. On the other hand, Milejów started to sell beverages in light and non-returnable new-type bottles of 0.3l capacity.
What is the cause of this? First, shops make less profits when selling cheap beverages even if the commission is higher. They prefer to sell Coca-Cola, Pepsi and more expensive juice in cartons to customers. An example of one shop is symptomatic of this situation. Its owner started to sell juice from Tymbark but after a month had to stop because of drastic reduction in sales of other beverages Pepsi and Coca Cola in particular. A Similar situation occurs when shops try to sell milk in glass bottles or cheap bread. Selling packaged bread and milk in cartons is more profitable because they are more expensive. Although in 1993 the Consumer Federation agreed with the Green Federation that such practices are against customers and raise prices, nobody has tried to make use of this admittance so far.
And in this hopeless situation, where it seemed that nobody but the authorities could change it, a piece of good news appeared. Around November 1994 Tarczyn started to put its juice into typical bottles of 1l capacity. At first there was apple, blackcurrant and cherry juice. Then, in January 1995, the firm started to bottle grapefruit, orange and tropical fruit juice. They are cheaper than beverages in a carton. For example, apple and blackcurrant juice are 1.1 - 1.2 zł each while the same juice in cartons costs 1.3 - 2.2 zł. Even a disposable bottle of 0.3l capacity is not much cheaper and costs 0.8 - 0.9 zł.
The firm achieved quite a success in Warsaw. More and more shops sell the juice which does not contain the citric acid and sugar which is added to juice sold in cartons. It shows that other producers can enter the market without incurring costs of investments like factory lines for filling cans, non-standard bottles or Tetra-Paks, which are harmful to health.
Firms like Tymbark, which have not yet really invested in putting their drinks in Tetra-Paks, will not be successful on a large scale in the future unless they start now and make up for lost time. It seems that in Warsaw Tymbark still sells juice in glass bottles.
Tarczyn is an example that producers who sell juice in glass bottles can be successful although Polish regulations promote those who produce disposable packaging, mainly plastic bottles and cans.
Starting (or maintaining) production of juice in returnable bottles could be encouraged by a system of tax relief, e. g. 7% VAT). On the other hand, a special tax should be imposed on disposable packaging. The tax should correspond with the cost of their disposal or utilisation. Higher tax should be imposed on packaging which is not biodegradable like PVC (e.g. Aqua Minerale) or Tetra-Pak (juice from Hortex, Fortuna and Czempin).
Local government can provide rent incentives for shops which will stop selling juice in disposable packaging. Examples of this can be found in Austria.
Another important thing is ecological education, which depends on us. It is crucial that people be made aware of the economical truth that products in disposable packaging cost more to start with and then all of us are burdened with the costs of waste disposal.
It is good to remember that juice producers can always be convinced to add returnable bottles to their outlay. It seems that the example of Tarczyn proves that firms like Milejów or Tymbark could extend their share in the market without resigning returnable bottles. For example they could provide distribution of their juice in returnable bottles of 1l capacity within 100 km of their base, which can be done easily and without extending the distribution system. Such firms could gain a lot by starting co-operation with similar firms and, for example, creating a common logo for juice in returnable bottles
Below are some addresses of firms producing juice in returnable glass bottles. Most of their products are very cheap when bought wholesale. Last summer, for example, apple juice from Milejów cost 0.23 zł if you bought 20 bottles.
reprinted from Zielone Brygady 3/95