New wine packaging for a changing consumer profile

by | Mar 1, 2019 | Winetech Technical, Practical in the cellar

PHOTO 1. The well-known 3 L BIB.

The demographic age profile of consumers of different generations is divided according to their birth dates. Consumers born since World War Two are classified as “Baby Boomers” (middle 1940s to middle 1960s), “Generation X” (middle 1960s to early 1980s), “Generation Y”, also known as the “Millennials”, (early 1980s to early 2000) or “Generation Z” (middle 2000s until now). In the case of wine all the generations, except for the last one, can be seen as potential present consumers. If a cellar’s present consumers consequently exist mainly of “Baby Boomers”, a decrease in sales can be expected seeing that these consumers gradually pass away. The last two generations must be in the vision of cellars to maintain or increase their market share. It is consequently important to consider and develop wine styles and types accordingly, as well as alternative wine packaging.

The 750 ml glass bottle is the most popular wine packaging in spite of its significant weight disadvantage and potential breakage in comparison with other ways of packaging. In some cases even a corkscrew is needed to open it and it cannot be kept for an unlimited time after a bottle was opened. Some of these disadvantages were addressed by using smaller 375 or 187 ml bottles, but the weight and breakage disadvantages were still unsolved. It is however seen as the traditional wine container and many consumers do not move away from tradition. This bottle will most probably remain the most general packaging, but cellars will be short-sighted if alternative packaging is not considered.

Most Millennials are already 21 at this stage and consequently potential wine consumers. It is therefore important to understand their perception of wine. Older consumers already have established preferences, but Millennials are more explorative and will consume a variety of beer, wine and spirits. As result of their lack of knowledge and experience they are not so committed to certain wine types, cultivars or trade names. In spite of that they tend to drink the same wines at home due to their parents’ or friends’ influence. If they do however socialise away from home, a variety of products are explored and consumed. Their innovative consumption is however not driven by social media, but rather by the attraction and prominence of the package. This is thus an ideal opportunity for cellars to attract new customers (

The mentioned disadvantages of glass bottles were the driving force for the development of bottles made from poli-ethylene terephthalate (PET). Given its weight advantage, gas and moisture proof status, resistance against alcohol and potential recyclability, it offers a popular alternative for glass bottles. It can also be made in the same capacities as glass bottles. It is especially popular amongst airlines as result of its weight and easy handling. A plastic glass can also form part of the packaging.

“Bag-in-Boxes” or BIB’s were most probably the first alternative for glass bottles as wine packaging. It is used globally and recommended as preferred packaging by certain wine monopolies. It is much lighter than glass bottles and the cost of packaging and transport are saved. As result of the contraction after wine is poured from it, air contact with potential, consequential oxidation is prevented and the wine has a longer shelf life than an open glass bottle. It is a comfortable, durable packaging, utilising space per volume better and also cheaper per volume. When it is filled care must be taken that an excessive air bubble volume does not remain in the bag, which can lead to oxidation. It is available in different sizes, with the 3 L BIB, equivalent to four 750 ml bottles as the most popular.

By integrating the foil and carton cover of the BIB the container can even be simplified more and smaller volumes can be filled to meet the demand of individuals. It does not need a tap and wine can be poured directly from the container or drunk with a straw. It is available in different capacities ranging from 200 ml to 1 L. Tetra Pak packaging, which is the result of such development, is also used for other beverages. It promotes the informal consumption of wine by individuals.

As result of the exterior carton of the BIB or Tetra Pak packaging, it is rigid to a certain extent. By removing the carton part, a foil bag with a tap, similar to a BIB tap could be developed and all product or label details can be printed on it. It has a further advantage, because it can fit into any space. These foil bags are obtainable in 187 ml to bigger sizes. The bigger bags usually have a semi-rigid base to impart partial stability to it (

The latest wine packaging is without doubt the aluminium can, which is also used for cool drinks, fruit juices and beer. Due to the chemical composition of wine a liner must be used on the inside of the can to prevent corrosion of the metal. Vinsafe is for example an Australian patent, which prevents this problem. Wine in cans is especially popular amongst Millennials, seeing that it is cheap, recyclable, unbreakable and portable and does not contain much wine. It is also ideal for barbecues, camping, beaches and sport events. It is especially popular in Asian and North-American markets and is also gaining momentum in Australia. In the USA, the sales in cans grew by 43% during the year ending June 2018 and more than 100 wine brands are sold in it (Curtis, 2018).

Although South Africa is a wine consuming country, cans have not yet taken off. Last year 450 million L wine was sold in South Africa, of which 177 million (39%) was in glass, 149 million (33%) in BIBs, 62 million (18%) in plastic, 14 million (3%) in Tetra Pak and 0,38 million in foil bags (

Seeing that South Africa usually catches onto international trends later, wine in cans should follow shortly.


PHOTO 2. 200 and 500 ml Tetra Pak packaging.


PHOTO 3. 187 ml PET bottle with or without a glass.


PHOTO 4. 187 ml and 1,5 L foil bag packaging.


PHOTO 5. Aluminium can packaging.


Curtis, A., 2018. Is it time to can the classic 750 ml bottle? Alternative wine packaging could be on the rise. Australian and New Zealand Grapegrower and Winemaker, September 2018(656): 90 – 92.

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