Canned wine attracts new drinkers to traditional vintages
- Canned wine is a $45 million business, according to Nielsen statistics cited in a CNBC article. Between June 2017 and June 2018, sales increased 43%, statistics from beverage alcohol market research firm BW 166 cited by the news organization show.
- While the portable wine is getting more popular, it still is not a significant part of the wine market. According to Nielsen, canned wine sales make up only 0.2% of the market, while bottled wine represents 90% of sales. The increase in canned wine is driven by millennials, Nielsen said. In the last three years, canned wine options have skyrocketed from a dozen to more than 100.
- Wine cans hold amounts that make up one to two glasses of the beverage. These can help wineries try new blends and vintages out; according to research by E. & J. Gallo Winery cited by CNBC, one in four wine drinkers are more open to trying something new if they don't have to buy a full bottle.
Canned wine has blasted past being a curiosity. While it once may have been considered a way to sell lower quality vintages, it's become a way to instead make wine approachable. Thomas Pastuszak, wine director at NoMad in New York, told Quartz that canned wine shows a certain casual presentation of the beverage. A can seems much more informal to a novice wine taster. And instead of a formal occasion where a glass bottle needs to be uncorked, a canned wine can be tasted — and toted — by millennials on the go. Canned wine can easily be enjoyed at picnics or at the beach with no drinkware required — or sneaked into movie theaters.
It's also much more sustainable to put wine in a can. Glass bottles are easily broken and they are heavy. Cans are more readily recycled — 55% of aluminum cans are recycled, while only 34% of glass packaging is. And while it can be difficult to close bottles of wine that are sealed by corks, leading to potential waste, there is less wine in aluminum cans.
Can manufacturers have watched the new packaging format take off and have developed products that work well for the beverage. They've also played up the metal can's superior packaging attributes. After all, metal cans also protect what's inside from the sun. They can help give a brand an unpretentious cool look on the shelf, differentiating them from competitors. And the packaging can be used to communicate the wine's brand with every serving.
But can the trend go too far? While there are likely to always be traditionalists who prefer wine in a glass bottle that needs a corkscrew to be opened, wineries that are embracing the canning trend may be on to something. According to Silicon Valley Bank Wine Division's State of the Wine Industry report for 2018, wine volumes have skyrocketed since 1994. But that growth is leveling out, and the cost of making wine is also getting higher — meaning consumers may have to pay more. If consumers thought wine was expensive in the first place, they are unlikely to spend more on it.
However, wine in cans seems less pretentious — and can attract these consumers more easily. As a bonus, wineries may be able to charge more for the same amount of wine that was in a bottle when it is split up into several cans. According to the report, a different look may be necessary for survival. The wineries that will be successful in a decade, it states, are the ones who have adapted to consumers with different values.
Even though fine French wine is finding itself in cans, the format is not taking over. The State of the Wine Industry report says that explosive growth may make canned wine seem like it's sweeping the industry. However, it represents less than 1% of all sales, making it "unlikely to truly gain anything but a footnote in sales results."
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