Wine industry voices taste for alternatives to glass bottles

As part of its PACKWINE initiative, Winetitles Media recently invited members of the Australian and New Zealand wine industries to participate in a survey that explored their thoughts on and usage of packaging alternatives to glass bottles. The survey also asked wine company representatives to identify the current focus of their marketing spend and the sales channels that are currently working best for them. Sonya Logan reports on the findings of the survey.

Just 19 percent of Australian and New Zealand wine producers are currently packaging their wine in alternatives to glass bottles while 44% have considered using them, a Winetitles Media survey has revealed.

The survey, which saw 60 members complete, has provided a snapshot of industry practices with respect to packaging alternatives. The vast majority of the survey respondents were based in Australia (95%) and produced less than 50,000 cases of wine a year (69%). Wineries crushing less than 100t of winegrapes a year were the largest category represented among the respondents (49%), followed by wineries crushing more than 1000 tonnes annually (19%).

Reflecting the growing prominence of the category, cans were the alternative packaging option that most respondents had heard of (95%), followed by bag-in-box (88%), PET or plastic bottles (75%), Tetra Pack (71%), keg (68%), bag/pouch (51%), and paper bottles (27%) (Figure 1).

Among the 19% of respondents who were using alernative packaging, unsurprisingly glass bottles were still the most popular packaging material, followed by kegs, PET, bags or pouches, bag-in-box containers, while Tetra Paks and cans the least used (Figure 2).

When asked to nominate if they’d had any concerns arise from using non-glass alternative packaging, one respondent who was using glass bottles and kegs noted oxidation and light strike as trepidations. Oxygen pick-up during filling was also a concern for a respondent using 1.5L pourches along with a shorter shelf life than glass. Shelf life was also cited as a concern for both cans and PET containers by a respondent, who also noted that the “gate keepers” of the various retail categories remained “unsure of the quality of consumer demand for wine in a can in Australia”. Another respondent expressed concern at the set-up costs for trial orders of alternative packaging. And one respondent noted that PET containers did “not run well” down packaging lines.

Of the 44% of respondents who said they’d considered using non-glass packaging, the majority (46%) said their main reason for doing so was because they regarded those formats as being more sustainable. The second highest reason was attributed to the desire to building sustainable brand credentials (38%) while the third highest  was ‘consumer demand’ (35%). Just 31% said retailer/distributor or on-premise demand had driven them to consider non-glass packaging. Of those who checked ‘other’ for this question, some of the reasons given were: “consumer interest in international markets”, “tasting samples”, and “functionality (unbreakable, lighter, re-sealable, compact, Ideal for outdoors)” (Figure 3)

Of the reasons given for not considering alternatives to glass containers, the equal top reasons were ‘wines need to age longer than 1 year’ and ‘production not large enough to diversify’ (47%). Fear that the quality of wine in non-glass alternatives could be at risk was the next highest reason (41%), followed by concerns that such packaging could damage their brand image (38%). No demand or unknown demand for such packaging was the next highest reason cited (31%) (Figure 4).

The PACKWINE survey also asked respondents to nominate what marketing measures they had recently undertaken to improve the visibility of their products. Perhaps not surprisingly given the uptick in online wine sales and the reduction in on-premise sales following the introduction of restrictions on restaurant patronage to curb the spread of COVID-19, increasing their social media presence and upgrading their website were the equal top measures carried out (80%). Hiring marketing experts was the second most popular measure (31%) (Figure 5).

Respondents were also asked to rank what most influenced their label designs. Wine style was the most popular answer (69%) followed by the name of the winery (67%), price point (63%), art images (44%) and a winery’s personalities (35%).

Sixty-nine percent of respondents said they outsourced their label design.

In response to the question on whether respondents thought it was becoming harder for labels to stand out amongst the competition, 69% answered ‘yes’. When asked to nominate which sales channels work best for promoting their label, winery websites and cellar doors ranked first and second, respectively. Retail outlets and on-premise ranked third and fourth, respectively (Figure 6). By contrast, the retail and on-premise markets were the main avenues of wines sales for all respondents, followed by cellar doors and winery websites (Figure 7).


Just 9% of respondents said they were currently using or considering using anti-counterfeiting measures for their wine packaging, with on-label solutuions the main measure being used or considered, followed by on/in capsule closure solutions. Solutions engraved onto bottle surfaces was also noted as being under consideration.

This article was originally published in the May 2021 issue of the Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine.