Thirsty drinkers push sales

  • 2001-08-09
  • TBT staff
VILNIUS - Lithuanian mineral-water and soft-drink producers posted record sales this July and were wracking their brains for ways to meet the soaring demand amid the summer heatwave.

Coca-Cola Bottlers of Lithuania more than doubled their sales in July, compared to the same period last year. "But it's not only the weather that has increased our sales," exclaimed Saulius Galadauskas, one of the company's branch managers, to The Baltic Times. "Many targeted activities have been held recently to promote sales. As in our 'Look under the cork' promotion, every third bottle wins. We gave away a million bottles in total."

Druskininku Rasa, a mineral water and soft-drink producer, installed a new production line in June to fulfill the extra demand for drinks. The company produced 3 million liters of non-alcoholic beverages that month.

"It was a very good month for us as our summer sales are defined by the hot weather in general," said company board member Valdas Petkevicius.

Selita, another soft-drink manufacturer, doubled its output in the first half of July versus the previous month. The company produced a total of 5.2 million litres of drinks in the first six months of 2001, compared with 4.9 million litres in the same period last year.

Audrius Jurse, director general of the Selita non-alcoholic beverages production company, explained to The Baltic Times that, as usual, the company sells up to three times more beverages in summer months than in the winter period.

"Regrettably, July was probably the peak of the heat this year, and we do not expect it again. Our production capacities were almost fully employed. But if there is a demand, we could fill it every month," he added.

The Baltic Mineral Water company increased its soft-drink sales for July by 70 per cent compared with June. "It was a very unexpected surge. When we were ordering bottles for drinks, we did not expect that the demand would increase at such a rate," Nijole Mitkiene, head of the sales unit at Baltic Mineral Water, was quoted as saying to BNS.

It is not only soft-drink fans who are in need this summer. Beer drinkers also have to be satisfied. Utenos Alus, the second largest brewery in Lithuania, said its sales increased more than twofold in the first week of July, amounting to 1.5 million liters of beer.

If the good weather holds, Utenos is expecting to sell about 6.5 million litres of beer in July, a twofold increase from the 33.9 million litres sold the previous month.

The projected monthly capacity of Utenos Alus is 6.4 million litres of beer. Arunas Lubys, the company's managing director, said this capacity could be reached if the brewery produced weaker beer, according to a well designed plan, rather than brewing its stronger beer. "Our capacity is not sufficient, but we are not about to sacrifice quality for quantity," Lubys confirmed.

In the spring 2001, Utenos completed the reconstruction of its brewery, which lasted two years. Investment totalled 80 million litas ($20 million). The company intends to invest an additional 12 million litas into water preparation and freezing equipment.

In the first quarter of this year, Utenos Alus sold 16.89 million litres of beer and had a 16.7 percent share of the Lithuanian beer market. It is majority owned by the Scandinavian concern Baltic Beverages Holding, which controls another Lithuanian brewery, Kalnapilis. BBH intends to sell its 86.6 percent stake in Kalnapilis this autumn at the latest.