June 11, 2014 / 2:35 PM / 5 years ago

Russia presses ahead with plan to limit beer bottle size

MOSCOW, June 11 (Reuters) - Russia took the first step on Wednesday to limiting the size of plastic beer bottles, part of a government effort to promote healthy lifestyles by reducing the supply of cheap alcohol.

The lower house of parliament passed a bill on the first reading that says only beer with alcohol content of 6 percent or less can be sold in plastic bottles, and limits their size to 1.5 litres. The law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2015,

The bill, which faces three more votes in parliament before President Vladimir Putin can sign it into law, would gradually reduce further the alcohol content of beer sold in plastic bottles and the size of the containers.

From July 1, 2015, only beer with up to 5 percent alcohol content could be sold in plastic bottles, which must contain no more than 1 litre. From 2016, the limits would drop to 4 percent alcohol content and 0.5-litre plastic bottles.

The restrictions would augment a ban on the sale of beer in street kiosks at all times and in shops from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m., as well as advertising restrictions put in place after Putin began a campaign to improve Russia’s demographics.

Those measures - and excise tax hikes - have hit the market hard, prompting brewers to cut forecasts and close plants.

The Russian beer market, which has slumped by 25 percent since 2008, is dominated by four international companies - Carlsberg, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heineken and Anadolu Efes.

Danish brewer Carlsberg in May cut its outlook for the Russian market and now expects it to decline by mid-single-digit percentages in beer volume in 2014, compared with earlier guidance for a low-single-digit decline. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, editing by Elizabeth Piper and Steve Gutterman, Larry King)

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