South African wine consumers can start preparing for an onslaught of
alternatively packaged products on the wine shelves. According to Pieter
Cronje, marketing manager for uniWines Vineyards in Rawsonville, South
African producers are set to follow their foreign peers by introducing
wine in non-traditional packaging such as cans and pouches.
"Non-traditional packaging was a huge talking point at this year's London Wine Trade Fair, and now that the trade magazines on the event are beginning to appear, the issue of alternatively packaged wines is receiving tremendous coverage in the wine world," he says.
"One example is the prediction touted in the British media that the market for wine in tin cans in Europe is set to grow to 200m litres by next year, especially among emerging young consumers whose approach to wine is more creative and experimental."
However, Cronje states environmental concerns as reasons for the growing trend in wine packaged outside of glass.
"Demand from the retail sector and consumers for wine packaged in flexible foil pouches is on the rise in Europe and America, and as these trends go, I don't see South Africa missing out," says Cronje.
uniWines Vineyards hopes to tap into this new market with two 1,5 litre wine pouches which fall under its Palesa range of Fairtrade accredited wines, namely a Shiraz and Chenin Blanc for the local and export markets.
"The Green Revolution has evolved into sober business principles and consumer demand, and the bottom line is that the wine industry is going to have to move towards more environmentally sustainable production," says Cronje. "The best way of affirming your commitment, is by putting your money where your mouth is by offering products that underscore your approach to sustainability."
Cronje says pouches have various features which make their contribution to environmental sustainability more than that of traditional glass bottles. A glass bottle weighs 20 times more than the same amount of pouch material required to hold a similar amount of wine - and requires far less material to manufacture.
"One of the biggest problems exporters like South Africa face is the deep carbon footprint our wines leave as a result of transport to Europe, the Far East and other foreign markets," he says. "Besides pouches offering wines in a lighter container, their flexibility allows them to take up much less space than bottles, creating a lighter footprint."
Major British retailers such as Marks and Spencer and Asda have already substantially increased their ranges of pouched wines.
"When wine was first released in boxes in the 1970's, South African consumers initially frowned upon the concept. But within a few years boxed wine had become the norm due to practicality and the fact that there was no difference in quality between box and bottle," says Cronje.
"The pouch is set to have a similar revolutionary impact on the way the consumer sees wine, and this style of packaging can help the wine category in general to grow as consumers look for exciting new presentations and products displaying a commitment to environmentally sustainability."