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The opportunities in bulk wine shipping

Richard Lloyd, general manager at bulk wine shipping company The Park, explains the environmental and financial benefits of switching to bulk shipping

Richard Lloyd The Park

What brought you to your current position at The Park?

I joined the business as it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design and build a new manufacturing, warehouse and distribution facility at a greenfield site. This combined with the opportunity to design the organisational structure and operational philosophy meant it was the dream job. My background is a degree in engineering and then a masters in lean operational management.

What does the bulk wine shipping market look like at the moment? 

The bulk shipping market is very buoyant at the moment with significant growth within the UK. Ultimately shipping in bulk lowers carbon footprint by 40 per cent and shipping costs by 50 per cent and delivers an improved taste profile plus shelf life to the consumer.

Who does The Park provide products to / where does it ship to? Where, and from whom, does it source its liquids?

The Park works with many of the top 20 wine brands in the UK and is responsible for 25 per cent of the wine sold nationwide. The Park ships six million bottles of wine per week to its customers, including leading retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Aldi as well as many of the most popular brands, such as Jam Shed, IHeart and 19 Crimes. 

Current partnerships allow The Park to ship more than 8,000 tanks from wineries all over the world: Australia, USA, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Spain, France, Italy and New Zealand.

Could you explain to our readers why individual glass bottles are a bad environmental choice, compared to bulk formats such as those offered by The Park?

I would not say they are a bad environmental choice; it's that the weight of them needs to be minimised because a 330g bottle offers the same quality benefits a 700g bottle does but has a significantly lower carbon footprint. The key is to ship the wine in bulk from the country of origin to the country of sale and then bottle in market. The key to the glass market in the future is reducing the fossil fuel energy required to power a glass furnace and ideally moving to a hydrogen-powered furnace.

What do you consider to be the main logistical and financial benefits of bulk wine shipping?

When shipping wine in bulk, 2.5 fewer 20-foot containers are required for the identical quantity of wine versus when it is shipped in finished product format. Given that the cost of shipping from many wine regions such as Australia and Chile has doubled in price over the last 12 months, the financial savings are getting larger every year. Shipping in bulk has even more advantages, as it reduces carbon emissions by 40 per cent when compared to shipping the finished bottled product. 

Bulk wine shipping has undeniable benefits in terms of reducing packaging waste and transport emissions – but doesn’t it require quite a lot of plastic? What kind of materials does The Park currently use and it is exploring/implementing any more sustainable alternatives?

The Park sends zero waste to landfill and continues to pursue the elimination of virgin single use plastic. 

Tertiary plastic packaging often goes unnoticed by the consumer, as it is removed in the supply chain and is not visible at the point of purchase. Through the ongoing continuous improvement working with our supply partners optimising material specification, pre-stretch and lay-on tension, The Park has reduced the stretch wrap used to wrap its pallet by 50 per cent.

The goal is to have the first BWS [bulk wine shipping] product in store completely plastic-free from primary, secondary and tertiary packaging and move away from the dependency on plastic to transport products from manufacture to the point of purchase.

For wine drinkers who want to cut down on their use of virgin glass at home, what alternative formats would you recommend?

When customers consider buying more environmentally friendly wine, I recommend sourcing lighter-weight bottles which, contrary to belief, do not mean lower quality. It should also be noted that green glass contains a higher recycled glass content than clear flint glass. Other formats include bag in box which comes in 1.5-litre to 10-litre formats, or even canned wine for picnics and festivals, for example.

9 September 2022