Berli Jucker (BJC) is investing 2 billion baht (approx. US$58m) in the construction of a new furnace with a production capacity of 300 tonnes of glass a day, in order to cater to rising demand for glass containers.

The new plant is scheduled to commence operations by the end of 2017.

"Our current production capacity does not appear capable of meeting the huge increase in domestic demand.

“Therefore, we have decided to put an additional investment into a new facility to enhance overall capacity," Pattaphong Iamsuro, President of the company's packaging supply-chain business, said.

Based in Saraburi province, the new plant will be located on a 95-rai plot covering three sites managed by BJC's subsidiary, Thai Malaya Glass Thailand.

The manufacturing complex is the second site at which import and export giant BJC manufactures glass containers for beer, other beverages, food, pharmaceuticals and other products.

When fully operational, the new furnace will give the group an overall daily glass-production capacity of 3,800 tonnes, which is seen as sufficient to meet demand from both domestic customers and those in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Mr Iamsuro said 80-90% of the planned production capacity of the new furnace had already been booked by existing and new clients, leading the company to strongly believe that the fresh investment would break even within seven years.

As to overall production capacity, he added that 50% was for use within the BJC group and its subsidiaries, with the remainder catering to rising demand from outside customers.

Vichien Rungwattanakit, Senior Vice President, Commercial, at BJC's packaging business unit said that of the glass production capacity for the parent company, 25% was for whisky and other spirits, 20% for beers, 15% for carbonated beverages, and 5% for soda and drinking water.

"Apart from new orders from both the BJC group and other big corporates, we are witnessing increasing growth from small-and medium-sized enterprises that are likely to use standard types of glass bottles," he said.

In the first half of the year, sales from the group's packaging business were Bt5.356 billion, some 15.7% higher than in the same period last year - with SMEs accounting for 20% of the client portfolio.

Buoyed by this performance, this year's revenue target stands at Bt11 billion, representing a 16% rise, he said, adding that this would far outpace the normal 5% growth of the country's packaging industry.