Cape Town - The glass bottle is neither half full nor empty. In fact, it might not even be there at all as South Africa suffers bottle shortages because of faltering supplies.
Consol Glass chief executive designate Paul Curnow said the glass shortage was being caused largely by a combination of reduced stock levels due to alcohol bans and related lockdowns as well as the buoyant growth in the beverage industry following these bans.
He said it has been exacerbated in certain products where demand or additional growth had exceeded historical offtake.
Also partly to blame was the suspension of Consol’s investment in its Nigel, Gauteng, expansion project, which has since been reinstated.
In a bid to assure South Africans, he said Consol had acted swiftly to address the anticipated shortage.
“Also, in the short term, Consol continues to assist all its customers by facilitating imports of glass where feasible.”
Despite assurances, the wine industry is up in arms and is laying the blame squarely on the Covid-19 alcohol bans.
Vinpro wine business manager Christo Conradie said that they had always emphasised that the restrictions and ripple effect on sales volumes, manufacturing and other logistical aspects would have a major impact on the various glass smelters.
“Glass smelters operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Should the smelter be turned off, it causes massive problems. By their nature glass smelters cannot simply be turned on again.”
He said the lockdown restrictions had a definite effect on future supply of glass in the South African market.
He said Consol and a number of wine merchants imported glass bottles from Australia, Turkey and Russia but that this was accompanied by huge cost implications.
“This has had an enormous impact on the production costs of wine and is an extremely frustrating situation, which also has major financial implications, especially from a cash flow perspective.
“This problem is likely to be part of the wine industry's problems for the next season.”
It would seem the only upside is that PenBev, which bottles Coca-Cola, is not affected.