Last week I had the great pleasure of attending the London Wine Fair 2023 (LWF23) at Olympia, London. It was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with existing clients, meet new people (who could one day become Bevica clients) and find out more about new and growing industry trends. The big take away for me this year was how much the importance of alternative packaging formats in the wine sector had grown in the last year.
A cursory glance around the hall highlighted that there was a substantial increase in the number of exhibitors who either offer their wines solely in cans (such as The Uncommon, Canned Wines and House of Canvino) or who have started including cans in their packaging options.
I also attended a seminar in the Discovery Zone, Is Alternative Packaging Ready to Make a Breakthrough? which was so popular that it was standing room only. The clear message from this seminar was that an alternative packaging format for wine is so much more than single serving cans or the tried and tested box wine. Packaging innovations on display during the seminar included Frugalpac’s Frugal Bottle which promotes itself as “the world’s first paper wine and spirits bottle” and Packamama’s eco-flat bottles which are made from 100% recyclable PET.
Key messages shared at the seminar were:
- A desire by retailers (represented on the seminar panel by Sourcing Managers from Waitrose and Tesco) to introduce more alternative packaging into their BWS aisles, but that they can only do this in relation to the current public opinion on alternative packaging.
- Alternative packaging formats providers are not looking to replace the traditional glass bottle. Rather they can exist alongside them. Different formats may suit different occasions (single use cans for picnics versus a glass or PET 750ml bottle for a dinner party).
- Alternative formats, such as the eco-flat bottle or the paper bottle offer new marketing and promotion opportunities for producers.
- It is very important for producers and distributors to understand that not all wines will tolerate all packaging formats. Therefore producers either need to pick the best format for their wine or, as one of the panel suggested, adapt their wines to suit their chosen format.
- There is a need to normalise alternative packaging formats for consumers. Only then, will take up of alternative formats increase.
- And last, but not least, it is important to remember that there is no perfect solution when it comes to the issue of sustainability and carbon net zero. Searching for a utopian solution will only hamper sector growth.
Speakers on the “Is Alternative Packaging Ready to Make a Breakthrough” panel were:
- Richard Siddle, Editor-in-Chief, The Buyer (Panel Chair)
- Barry Dick MW, BWS Global Bulk Wine Sourcing Manager, Waitrose
- Joan Torrents, Global Sourcing Manager, Tesco
- Laura Rosenberger, Co-Founder, Laylo
- Malcolm Waugh, Chief Executive, Frugalpac
- Henry Connell, Co-Founder, The Uncommon
- Amelia Dales, Commercial Director, Packamama
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