In reaction to the so called "methyl alcohol affair" causing deaths of over 45 people since August 2012 in the Czech Republic, the Chamber of Deputies agreed to a draft of the act on mandatory labelling of spirits (the "Draft") and passed it to the Senate.
The Draft, applying to spirits containing more than 15% of undenatured ethanol, introduces new legal measures intended not only to fight the black market and tax evasions, but also to protect consumers. For example, an authorized maximum volume of consumer packaging of spirits should be reduced from 6 litres to 1 litre or to 3 litres in the case of glass vessels, as black market sellers often prefer the large packaging of alcoholic beverages. Bottles of spirits from -60 ml must be labelled by a stamp; a new generation of individualized control stamps with a new graphical layout and unique unrepeatable codes will be introduced. Moreover, there is a new obligation to install CCTVs in places where spirits are being labelled or in so-called tax warehouses, in order to enable tax administrators to monitor the labelling and bottling continuously. According to the Draft, the register of persons entitled to label or distribute the spirits will become publicly available on the internet and, as a result, consumers will be able to check whether they are buying products from duly registered subjects. It is worth mentioning that the Draft forms just a part of a legislative package implementing the Government's zero tolerance policy on the black market of spirits. In line with this, the Senate is also going to vote on an amendment to the Act No. 455/1991 Coll., the Trade Licensing Act, by which the concession will become obligatory for selling alcohol in the Czech Republic.
The second major news from the beverages sector is a new deal currently taking place in the Czech Republic. Molinari, an Italian manufacturer of alcoholic drinks specializing in liqueurs and the biggest world producer of Sambuca, an anise-flavoured liqueur, entered the non-alcoholic beverage market in the Czech Republic by acquiring a majority share in the Czech company Hanácká Kyselka, one of the most successful Czech producers of mineral water. As mentioned by the spokesman of Molinari, Eastern and Northern Europe have become key markets of the company for the next few years.