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Pack variety continues to excite in wine

Karine Dussimon, packaging analyst at Euromonitor International sums up the key wine packaging and closure trends over the last 18 months across the EMEA regions

Traditions in wine packaging have already been shaken in the last few years, in particular since French wine producer Boisset introduced its French Rabbit range in Tetra Prisma in 2005. Over 2009 and 2010, wine is still the subject of experiments by a number of packaging suppliers and wine producers in encouraging new wine drinking occasions, such as outdoor or on the move.

Liquid cartons and BiB
Paper-based packs are now beginning to move away from the economy image. Bag-in-box and liquid cartons continue to attract consumers, with their low retail prices and lightness as being two strong competitive advantages. But while these packs have traditionally met the need for less expensive products, such as for a casual lunch at home or for students, they are now opening to new markets.

The 2.25 and 3-litre sizes have been chosen for some of the more recent bag-in-boxbox product launches, such as Hardy's Nottage Hill by Constellation Europe in the UK (2.25l) and JeanJean by Jeanjean Polska (3l); both released in late 2009. And, the choice of wine packaged in bag-in-box, has often above the economy type, reflecting a will to suit both demand for family consumption and for social gatherings while guaranteeing a certain level of freshness and quality.

Liquid cartons have mainly materialised in the shape of the Tetra Prisma or ‘other shaped liquid cartons’ for wine – again with the intention to raise the profile of wines in cartons as traditionally wines found in brick cartons are associated with economy products, particularly among discounters. As is the case of Oz Rozz rosé by Åkesson Wines and Carte de Vinos and Svit Naturalnih Vin by Koblevo VAT in Ukraine – all released in 1 litre other shaped liquid cartons in the second half of 2009. Here, the choice of the pack not only acts as a brand differentiator; its shape makes the product easy to handle and carry, and therefore a good match for picnics and other social gatherings.

Single serve sizes
The cans' shy attempt in the wine market could pay off in whites and sparkling.

Since Australian producer Barokes launched its still light grape range in 250ml slimline cans in 2009, further attempts to offer wine in a metal beverage can have been rather rare and shy. Opportunities for the concept also look rather narrow; but they will no doubt be opportunities in white and sparkling wine. The pack's ability to keep its content chilled works better in white wine or even sparkling wine and rosé than with red wine. While rosé suffers from a lack of awareness in many European countries outside France, white wine is also more easily picked by consumers than its red counterpart for an outing on a sunny day.

In the UK, Guy Anderson Wines launched Cancan white wine in a 250ml can. Rexam's slimline can was also chosen by distributor Marine Express to offer wine in a single serve pack solution in Russia. Imported from Germany since 2009, the Elsa Liebfrauenmilch product is again only available in white and targets an urban, female crowd of consumers in their mid 20s to mid 30s who wish to enjoy wine on a day or night out. The distributor is thought to be also considering a release of semi-sparkling wine in the same format. While large gatherings such as sporting events and festivals will increase their market opportunities, wine cans will still face competition from liquid cartons, but also 187ml single serve glass bottles and even glass shaped rigid containers for other drinking occasions.

PET (and plastic screws)
Some the most striking packaging developments which have been wheeled across the still light grape wine categories over the 2009-2010 period are in rigid plastic. As PET is facing a ban in its use for packaging and exporting Boisset's Beaujolais Nouveau, the plastic bottle continues to be launched by several wine producers in western Europe and brings with it the plastic screw closure.

In addition to the launch of its Bivouac pouch in France fitted with a tap system and clearly marketed as an outdoor product ideal for camping (hence the name), Jeanjean introduced its Paul Sapin 750ml PET bottles in Sweden with Novembal's “Novatwist” plastic screw closures. It is also the pack solution that Swedish company Akesson Wines selected in 2009 for its Pink Pet rosé, which answers a seasonal and outdoor consumption need and will undeniably affect glass bottle unit sales in this narrow category.

The same format and closure also appears in the outlets of several retailers in the UK, with a 2010 release of Shiraz and Chenin Blanc wines by Waitrose, as well as the conversion of 250ml glass bottles into PET by retailer Marks and Spencer. The PET bottle's combination of a glass-like look and competitive production and transportation costs places it as a valid alternative to glass in economy and mid range wines. And so do plastic screws vis-a-vis of their also dynamic metal screw counterpart.

1 January 2011 - Karine Dussimon