Over the last few years we have seen a proliferation of alternative wine packaging formats come to market. From cans to boxed wines, plastic to paper bottles, more and more producers and retailers are adopting alternative formats alongside the traditional glass bottle. In this article, we take a deep dive into the subject: why this move is happening, what formats are available, and what the pros and cons are for both the producer and the consumer.

Why is there a move to alternative packaging formats in the wine industry?

The reasons for the move to alternative packaging formats in the wine industry are three-fold:

  1. Environmental sustainability – First and foremost are the concerns about the the environmental impacts of the wine industry. Not only does the industry’s production and packaging practices have a large carbon footprint, but there is a substantial environmental cost in how it is transported.
  2. Cost-efficiency – The cost of producing wine bottles has risen over the last few years. A US survey, the 2023 Wine Business Monthly Packaging Survey, stated that the average cost of a glass bottle has risen 8% from $1.91 to $2.07 in the 12 months prior to the survey. Producers, therefore, are looking to more cost-effective alternatives.
  3. Consumer preferences – Over the past decade, consumers have become more aware of the environmental impacts on the food and drink manufacturing industries. As a result, many consumers are becoming more discerning on what they will buy and how they want their food and drink to be packaged. As a result, there is a greater openness to moving to alternative packaging formats.

Types of alternative formats available

In 2024, the world of alternative packaging format for wine includes a wide range of different types of formats. These include:

Bag in a Box (BIB)

This is the tried and tested alternative format and can be found on many supermarket shelves. In the past, boxed wines have been perceived to be lower quality. This, however, is changing and many premium wines are introducing boxed formats. A key advantage of boxed wine is that the bag limits oxidation and therefore keeps the wine fresher for longer. It is also more lightweight than glass, thus reducing transportation costs and carbon emissions.


Single serving cans are also a format that is on the rise. Many producers have replaced their single serve bottles with cans as they are more lightweight, convenient and are generally recyclable. The downside of cans is that they are not really suitable for wines that need to age.

Recyclable PET bottles

There is also a significant move toward the use of bottles made from 100% PET (polyethylene terephthalate), a form of polyester that is both lightweight and recyclable. One type of PET bottle gaining in popularity is the eco-flat bottle made from 100% PET. Their USP is that the bottles are not only recyclable, but their shape makes them easier to pack, ship and store.

Paper bottles

Another innovative type of bottle that is on the rise is the paper bottle. A paper wine bottle is made from recyclable paperboard and a food-grade lining to hold the liquid. These bottles are lighter than glass bottles, which means lower transportation costs and carbon emissions.

Tetra Paks

Tetra Paks are lightweight, unbreakable and easy to transport. Like paper bottles, they offer a large surface for branding and information. However, like BIB and cans, there is a perception that wine packaged in a Tetra Pak of low quality. Tetra Paks are also more complex to recycle than plastic and aluminium.


Wine pouches are similar to bags used in the boxed wines. The pouches are lightweight, unbreakable and portable but they, like the boxed wines and the Tetra Paks, often get perceived as being of low quality.


Wine kegs are generally used in the on-trade as they keep wine fresh for up to six months and they significantly reduce packaging waste. However, the kegs do require special equipment for serving and therefore are less suitable for retail distribution.

Aluminium bottles

Aluminium bottles offer similar benefits and have similar drawbacks to cans. They are lightweight and recyclable and offer similar wine quality preservation qualities as cans. They also have the added advantage of being a similar shape to the traditional glass wine bottle.

Reusable bottles

Sturdy, reusable bottles can be included in a wine refill scheme and lean into the reuse aspect of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” sustainability mantra. These types of bottles definitely cut down on single-use packaging. But consumers are dependent on having a wine refill scheme near to them that they can, and want to, get involved in. Borough Wines and their “I–Will–Refill–Wine–on–Tap” concept is an example of this kind of wine refill scheme.

Plant-based bottles

This is probably the most niche of all the alternative packaging formats currently available. The bottles are made from renewable resources such as corn starch and sugar cane. This means that they have a lower carbon footprint than both glass and PET. The production process is still very limited and there is a concern that scaling it up could have an impact on food resources.

Advantages of moving to alternative wine packaging formats

Environmental impact

Traditional glass wine bottles have a considerable environmental impact. In addition to the production costs, there are the high transport costs for such a heavy product. Therefore, many alternative formats do offer a more environmentally-friendly option. Their manufacturing process has a lower carbon footprint and they are lightweight and therefore easier to transport. In addition, many alternative formats are highly recyclable.

Preservation of the wine quality

One of the advantages of alternative formats is that, rather than compromising the quality of the wine, they are as good at preserving it as traditional glass bottles. A study in the Journal of Wine Research found no difference in the sensory or chemical properties of the same wine packaged in glass bottles and aluminium cans after six months of storage.

Branding opportunities

The flexibility of alternative formats such as boxed wines, Tetra Paks and paper bottles is that the materials they are made from offer wine producers and retailers an excellent opportunity to brand their products with eye-catching, attractive designs which will encourage greater consumer uptake.

Convenience and portability

Many of the alternative formats such as cans, boxed wines, Tetra Paks and paper bottles are much more convenient and portable than glass bottles. Single-use cans can easily be slipped into a bag on train journeys. Tetra Paks, paper and plastic bottles are unbreakable and easy to open, and therefore convenient for outdoor activities.

Portion Control

As alcohol consumers become more concerned about the need for moderation, they are also looking to alternative formats that can help them achieve this. Single-use cans allow consumers to regulate how much wine they consume in one sitting, while the move to boxed wine takes away the consumer fear of leaving “only one glass” in an open bottle.

Disadvantages of alternative wine packaging formats

Perception of lower wine quality

As previously stated, there is a dated consumer view that wine packaged in many alternative formats, such as boxed wines and Tetra Paks, is lower quality wine than those stored in glass bottles. This can affect the adoption rates of these new formats, particularly by those consumers who view themselves as wine connoisseurs.

Consumer unfamiliarity with the formats

Many consumers are not aware of the many different types of alternative wine formats and, as with the perceived lower wine quality, they don’t understand the advancements that have been made to make these formats comparable in quality to traditional glass bottles. This lack of understanding has an impact on consumer uptake.

Producer set up

Most producers have invested heavily in their production processes, including traditional bottling facilities. Although there is an ambition to move to alternative formats, any decision to move needs to take the financial implications of this change into consideration.

Bevica: a business management system built for all wine packaging formats

Bevica is a business management system that has been created specially for the alcoholic drinks industry. Its unique functionality includes a number of features that helps producers, wholesalers and retailers to manage their stock regardless of the packaging format. These include:

  • Multiple Item Units of Measure: Bevica holds an unlimited number of product formats. Users can hold stock by volume, bottle size, weight, pack/case size or just by the unit. Product setup assigns each item with its purchase, stocking and sales units of measure, for example purchase in pallets, sell in cases and bottles.
  • Waste packaging information as an item attribute: Bevica has the ability to record what waste packaging is used at all stages of production. This functionality will help users comply with their UK Packaging Regulations requirements.

For more information about Bevica and how it can help your business, contact us and book a demo.