Suppliers say they are facing increases of 45% to 70% for glass bottles

Brits are set to pay even more for wine next year, with suppliers facing huge increases in the cost of glass.

Having already seen glass prices surge over the past year, major wine suppliers are now expecting to pay further increases of 45% to 70% for glass bottles from next spring, due mainly to the rising cost of energy.

One source at a major supplier called the increase in the cost of glass “absolutely eye-watering” and suggested consumers would face “big increases” as “we can only mitigate so much”.

Kingsland Drinks MD Ed Baker added: “Glass manufacturers are massively energy-intensive and even the component parts of glass are fundamentally energy-rich to derive.” 

Many businesses were now looking to cut the weight of glass they use to help save money, he said.

“We have already worked on projects like weight in glass as much as possible,” he said. “We already have bottles at 320g and more customers are moving down to those – you can’t go much lighter without having either look issues or breakage issues.” 

On top of that, the price of Packaging Recovery Notes – which suppliers are obligated to buy by law from recycling companies or compliance schemes – had surged too, said Baker, from approximately £45 to £200 per PRN over the past year.

“Glass is the most volatile of all the PRNs at present. Therefore the cost of utilising glass for the wine and beer industry is going up dramatically.”

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association has written to Defra asking the government wing to “urgently” look at what it called the “PRN crisis” and would be “urging the new government to take immediate action to avoid this tsunami of rising costs and threats of fraud which could cause the collapse of some small businesses”, said its CEO Miles Beale.

“In the UK we have seen glass prices rocket, exacerbated by increased demand following Covid lockdowns. Add to this continuing supply chain problems, increased production costs due to the price of energy and other inflationary pressures, and the clear conclusion is there is little sign of the prices going down any time soon.”

That new Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt revealed this week that a planned freeze in alcohol duty proposed by previous Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng would be scrapped just weeks after it was announced has further compounded the situation for wine brands.

Indeed, the news on duty was met with dismay by voices across the alcohol industry this week, with the WSTA’s Beale slamming Hunt’s decision as “extremely disappointing”. He called it “yet another change of plans which will cause disruption to UK wine and spirit businesses who have spent the last two years being bounced from one crisis to the next”.