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Castel ‘would use plastic bottles’

Bordeaux wine producer Castel has said it will consider using plastic bottles if the glass supply problem continues.

Concerns about bottle supply in 2008 are mounting – another producer has said it has been warned of further difficulties in 2008.

‘If supply difficulties persist, and prices increase, we could imagine replacing glass bottles with PET [polyethylene terephthalate] ones,’ said Franck Crouzet, Castel Group’s communications director.

Crouzet described the current situation of intermittent bottle supply from the dominant producers, Saint-Gobain and Owens-Illinois BSN, as ‘unacceptable’.

‘They are not respecting their agreements. Clients are not their priority. They have other priorities and interests,’ he said. Last year, the Castel Group, which owns high street chains Nicolas and Oddbins, reported a turnover of €884m in its wine division in 2006.

Another Bordeaux wine producer, Alain Sichel, director of Maison Sichel, told decanter.com his regular suppliers had warned him about potential shortages.

‘We have been warned that we will have supply for the next few months, and then, that there will be pressure well into 2008 on a range of different bottles,’ he said.

Sichel, whose company turned over €30m last year, put the difficulties down to restructuring and investment in the glass industry. ‘It is an economic necessity. The downside is a lack of competition.’ Prices were increasing, he said.

Asked about the practicalities of switching from glass to PET bottles Crouzet said Castel, which also produces bottled water and beer, was already equipped with the necessary machinery and only needed to know French consumers would accept PET bottles.

The advantages of PET bottles have recently been outlined to Castel in a document presented to the company in November 2007. Included are reduced transport, storage and breakages costs, as well ease of recycling.

A spokesperson for Saint-Gobain acknowledged there had been supply problems this summer, but said they had been resolved. ‘The tension on supply today has been reabsorbed, and we have reconstituted our stock,’ she said. ‘For us there are currently no supply difficulties,’ she stressed.

Owens-Illinois BSN could not be reached for comment.

Written by Sophie Kevany in Bordeaux

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