Kegs, Cans, Or Boxes. Is It Time For A Change?

Posted: Sep 04, 2019



Wine packaging has evolved considerably over the millenia. In recent decades we have seen the rise of fantastic advances in things such as the "Wine Keg", Canned Wine, and yes even wine in the so-called tetrapack or "box wine" as it has come to be known.

The response from the consumer regarding various packages has followed every level of possible acceptance from full adaptation to utter disdain.

As a professional in this industry with decades of experience in the matter, I thought it a good idea to address the qualitative element from a pure business perspective. Our company always takes a primarily pragmatic approach when we instruct the trade or consumers with regards to any concept. 

An important correlation we reveal during our seminars is that as the pleasure derived by the consumer due to the quality of the wine increases, sales volume increases and vice-versa.

Keg Wine:
Let's look at wine from the keg or as I like to call it, "the closest thing to pouring a glass of wine directly from the winery's tank". While a consumer may not experience the romance of a cork popping table side or the emotion of viewing the label and bottle, there are several realities which need to be considered.

1. Speed: The time it takes to serve a glass from a keg is literally a fraction of the time it takes to retrieve a bottle from a cellar, present, and open it.
2. Quality and Consistency: Wine kegs are typically held at a stable temperature and are not exposed to light. This means that the consumer will inevitably receive a wine with a consistent taste and whose flavor quality will be high for many weeks vs. the days a wine by the glass may last.
3. Economic Benefit: Customers who experience high pleasure due to prompt service and high quality food and beverage tend to spend more at and return to an establishment with greater frequency. 
4. Corporate Social Responsiblity: The total CO2 footprint due to no glass transportation or need to recycle the bottle, full recyclability of the keg (they are returned to be refilled) creates an almost irrefutable argument for the keg's use.

Canned Wine:
This has become one of the top growing trends in our industry. One should think of the can as a miniature of the keg. It exhibits many of the same positive benefits of the keg, while it may not be as positive for the environment.

1. Portability: Due the myriad of design and sizes available for this package, the can offers the consumer the ability to pack and carry it nearly anywhere. No wine glass is required to enjoy the delicious contents inside.
2. Quality and Consistency: Similar to wine kegs, the nature of the nearly inert interior of the can allows the consumer the ability to consume a near "polaroid" of the wine from the winey's tanks. 
3. Economic benefits: As long as the can is stored in a temperature controlled environment, its potential for spoilage is much lower than a bottle's contents due to the fact that there is no potential for UV damage of it's contents. Lowered waste transfers to higher returns for the retailer.
4. Recyclability and environmental impact: As the weight of your package increases your cost of transportation increases and so does your CO2 footprint. This makes a great argument against glass bottles with their much heavier weight, and high waste removal cost compared to the can's low weight, and greater ease of recyclability. More on that here at OPB.org. The jury is still out on this subject by the way.

Boxed Wine:
Courtesy of the juice box industry and other innovations in beverage packaging, wine in a box is a thriving category. Some brands you may have heard of include: Black BoxBota Box, etc. This is one of the most controversial categories due to the shear emotional attachment people have with the glass bottle vs. the negative connotation of wine being packaged in paper.

1. Portability: Wine in a box is certainly a leader when comes to this category. The standard 1-3 liter package can take many shapes due to the fact that the wine "bladder" inside the box can deform in numerous ways allowing the winery many dimensions and sizes for their box.
2. Qualitiy and Consistency: Here it gets tricky. For those of us who want short term convenience, value and quality this is the ideal package. It can be stored easily in your refrigerator (I recommend the red, rosé, or white be stored in that way for longevity's sake.) At our home, we simply place our red glass on the table allowing it to reach our preferred temperature. Unlike a wine bottle which has been opened, a boxed wine that has been "tapped" does not allow oxygen to come in contact with the beverage. That said, it should be noted that the plastic material surrounding the wine is porous. Therefore check the expiration dates on the box. I typically buy a boxed wine with no more than 30-45 day old bottling date. Boxed wines with older boxing dates may be more suceptible to being oxidized. Our family has had to return many oxidized wine boxes.
3. Economic Benefits: Due to the low cost of the packaging materials and the fact that these wines last longer (when stored properly) than open bottles, the economics make a lot of sense. By the way, boxed wine does not equate to cheap wine necessarily. This article in Eatbydate.com is an eyeopener regarding box wine expiration dates.
4. Recyclability and environmental impact: At least the box is fully recyclable. The CO2 footprint argument is up for grabs here. While the packaging is considerably lighter and therefore reduces the shipping CO2 footprint, the petroleum required to produced the typical bladder and its lack of recyclability, in some cases, may swing the environmental impact in a negative direction.

Our company is poised to serve your education, sales, marketing and digital e-commerce needs. We look forward to hearing from you. 

By Luis Torres CMO/CSO
Go-Wine.com | Winebusinessacademy.com
September 4, 2019

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