During the global pandemic, the wine industry demonstrated its versatility at finding flexible solutions. However, with change now the only constant in the industry, how is wine packaging continuing to adapt? Here Stephane Triquet, vice president of strategic marketing at Selig, discusses the trends, wine packaging predictions and how wine sealing is evolving.
Wine – a growing business
The wine industry is predicted to grow by a CAGR of 4.28% until 2026. Key factors expected to fuel growth over the coming years are product premiumisation and the demand for wine due to its health benefits. At present, the five biggest wine-consuming countries drink half of the world’s wine (49%)!
The trends that are transforming the world of wine at present include supply chain issues and price inflation that are leading buyers to look beyond tried-and-tested purchasing routes. Also, colour boundaries are being pushed as more experimental wines defy genre classification, natural wines are moving from niche to mainstream and sparkling wine is becoming a mid-week staple for consumers. Finally, e-commerce is becoming even more creative so as to keep customers acquired during the Covid months.
Wine packaging predictions
An area that has been slower to embrace adaptation is wine packaging. However, change is on the horizon. According to industry predictions, sustainability is driving a growing interest in the light-weighting of glass packaging in non-sparkling wines, to help major retailers meet their carbon reduction targets. This is particularly important, as up to half of a wine’s carbon footprint comes from its glass bottle.
Sustainability and e-commerce are also driving the niche development of 100% recyclable, 750ml, flat Polyethylene Terephthalate wine bottles and biodegradable bottles; in the spirits sector, Bacardi has committed to biodegradable bottles made from palm-, soy- and canola-based oils by 2023.
On-the-go consumption is also fueling packaging change and canned wine popularity continues to increase, particularly when paired with low-alcohol formulation RTD options. No wine packaging overview is complete without mention of the bag-in-box format, particularly as the traditional aluminium-lined bags are being replaced by malleable polymer alternatives that don’t trigger wine oxidation.
Evolutions in wine sealing
For many years the glass bottle and cork have seemed like a match made in heaven. However, over recent years, issues with cork taint have led to wine providers exploring other options. Cork can harbour chloranisole-producing microbes that can lead to 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA) and other taint-causing compounds that can spoil the wine. Aiming to resolve this, many producers have turned to synthetic corks but they have high gas permeability and are only suitable for wines destined for early drinking.
The issue of cork taint is significant because of the amount of wine it impacts and wastage it produces. In fact 3% - 6% of corks contain TCA and other taint causing compounds; with 30 billion bottles of wines produced per year closed by cork, this equates to an estimated one billion bottles ruined by TCA annually.
The concerns around cork have led to alternative wine sealing methods, particularly screw caps, being explored. Following successful results of extensive screw cap testing by The Australian Wine Research Institute, 90% of New Zealand and Australian wine is now sealed with screwcaps.
Screw caps – tried and tested
A 20-month trial compared the performance of a range of closures. The Australian Wine Research Institute concluded that screwcaps offered many benefits: the lowest reduction in free and total sulphur dioxide (SO2) and highest retained free SO2 and ascorbic acid, the lowest incidence of browning (OD420) and least variation between bottles for all compositional variables, as well as the lowest in developed and oxidised characters and effectively zero TCA. Also, screwcaps have been shown to have no negative effect on bottle maturation.