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Beer and liquor producers begin offering soft drinks

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The producers of lemonades, juices and bottled table and mineral water face growing competition. Not only companies such as the water services giant Veolia have joined the race to satisfy thirst of Czech soft drink consumers, but also breweries and liqueur producers who do not normally deal with this kind of business.

The country’s fourth largest liquor producer, Fruko Schulz from Jindřichův Hradec, wants to take advantage of this year’s growing interest in tap water drinking and has developed an organic syrup, a brand new product on the Czech market.

Last year’s sales of syrup, which the company has been selling for years, were rather low, falling by 4% year-on-year to 1,700 tones, which is a volume corresponding to more than two million of bottles.

In the first half of this year, however, the company saw about a 9% increase in sales, according to company’s director, Josef Nejedlý.

“Organic raspberry-flavour concentrated juice has gained all certificates needed within this category. It will hit the market in three weeks,” said Nejedlý.

Water tap to replace the bottle?
The water giant Veolia, which supplies some 40% of Czech households with drinking water, has also taken into consideration the advantages of tap water drinking. But it is yet to launch its marketing campaign. Yet it managed to convince dozens of restaurants and hotels to start offering tap water for free as a separate drink.

“Gastronomic facilities which begin serving tap water will gain, in addition to unique carafes, also information and promo materials. We want to take advantage of the fact that serving tap water has been a common practice abroad for a long time,” said Veolie Voda’s spokeswoman Markéta Dvořáčková.

The year-on-year consumption of non-alcoholic beverages in the Czech Republic has fallen 1% to some 2.7 billion litres and the traditional soft drink producers are now targeting new customers with innovations. The executive secretary of the Non-alcoholic drink producers union, Zdeňek Huml, said that selling bottled water is an advantage as the consumer can see on the label that that the water comes from a high-quality sources.

But it is the price what plays a key role these days. And when it comes to prices of water, tap water is by far the cheapest. A 1.5 litre of tap water costs around 6 hallers as oppose to CZK 6 for the same amount of the cheapest bottled water available in retail chains.

Lemonade, the sister of beer
About ten breweries, mainly the smaller ones, such as Chodov and Černá Hora, have started producing and selling non-alcoholic beverages. The Černá Hora brewery has already introduced 12 lemonade and bottled water brands to the market.

Swist Cola, a malt beverage, which Plzeňský Prazdroj launched in July counting on high demand for cola-type beverages, has so far been sold only to restaurants. There it will compete with the established Kofola from the tap and the Brno-based Koala made from the Černá Hora beer.

Demand for new products is also behind a new brand introduced this year by the Humpolec-based brewery Bernard. Similar to Swist Cola, Bernard’s Švestka does not fall within the category of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer due to its proportion of added concentrated juice.

“It’s a malt drink and demand for it is growing as much as for non-alcoholic beer, mainly because of the introduciton of stricter road laws. Plus people are ready to try something new,” said Bernard’s spokesman Zdeněk Mikulášek.

Non-alcoholic beer counts as a separate category which beer makers use to successfully compete with soft drink producers.

While the consumption of beer is decreasing in the Czech Republic – to some 16 million hectolitres last year, demand of non-alcoholic beer has increased from 117,000 hl eight years ago to last year’s 580,000 hl.

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