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Why bottling wine in-market could be way forward

Paul Braydon, buying controller at Kingsland Drinks, shares his insights into wine shipped and bottled in-market and highlights the environmental and economic benefits to the industry and consumers.

Paul Braydon Kingsland Drinks

Shipping wines into the UK in large volumes and bottling them here, often referred to as 'bulk wine', brings in a huge amount of benefits. It is highly efficient, lowers fuel use, significantly cuts carbon emissions, and reduces the need to haul glass and other packaging materials around the world.

Shipping wine in this way uses approximately 40 per cent less carbon dioxide versus shipping in bottle and we've seen a reduction in transport costs, along with other benefits such as improved shelf life and fewer breakages compared to wine imported in bottles. As a result, it makes commercial and environmental sense for the industry to favour wine shipped and bottled here in the UK versus packed at source, particularly for high-volume lines.

Kingsland Drinks is one of the pioneers of wine bottled in-market, having shipped the very first bulk wine back in 1964 - we have volumes coming into Liverpool, so road haulage to our facility in Salford, Greater Manchester, is minimised.

Our largest-volume wine sources are New Zealand, Australia, Chile, South Africa and the USA, primarily because these are where the strongest benefits to bulk shipping are realised from an economical and environmental perspective. It's important to bring these wines into the UK market and bottle them here, where they are relevant, add value and give customers a product they will enjoy.

We have seen increased volumes of wine shipped from Spain in recent years and, in the past two years, we have started shipping from Bulgaria and Moldova. Last year, we shipped the first wines from India to be bottled in the UK and are always looking at emerging supply markets that will be of interest for UK customers and consumers from a quality, value and unique offer position.

We work very closely with our customers and supplier partners to source and develop excellent-quality wines that, thanks to the economies of scale unlocked by bulk shipping and bottling in the UK, can be supplied to the UK consumer in a more environmentally friendly way and at a more competitive price point than the same liquid bottled at source.

Shipping wine in bulk and bottling in the destination country also means that, from a production point of view, you have more flexibility on the formats and materialsvyou can now use including lighter weight glass and more environmentally friendly formats such as bag-in-box, cans and kegs.

In-market bottling enables closer control of the product offering, insight-led development of products and brands, and by working with our customers we can deliver products that meet their category requirements. Close contact to our customers and consumers enables us to recognise changing dynamics in buying and be more category and consumer focused.

From a consumer perspective, our research shows that consumers do not necessarily consider where a wine is bottled as part of their purchase decision. From a wine quality perspective, in independent third-party research conducted by Campden BRI and Wirral Sensory Services, wines shipped and bottled in the UK were preferred by consumers over equivalent wines pre-shipment or packed at source.

In terms of the trade, there is certainly a level of snobbery and negativity in some areas towards bulk wine bottled in-market. We're keen to challenge these perceptions and miconceptions about the processes involved. In reality this is wine made by dedicated winemakers and grape growers in premium wineries all over the globe with the intention from the outset for the wine to be supplied to a bottler in-market.

In summary, the future is bright for wine shipped and bottled in market and if we can communicate the positive messages around the environmental, cost and quality benefits, the UK consumer will demand more, and more wines will be bottled and purchased in this way.

From a product perspective, we work with some of the most innovative and progressive winemakers on the planet, enabling us to bring innovation to the UK market in the most cost-effective way.

At Kingslands Drinks we remain adaptable to change, continuing to explore new innovations while seeking opportunities to diversify our portfolio to maintain our strong position within the competitive drinks sector.

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20 November 2020