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db seminar kicks off LIWF programme

the drinks business’  Wine Packaging and Closures seminar got this year’s industry briefings programme at the London International Wine Fair off to a fine start.

Around 140 people turned up to hear the six speakers discuss the merits of their respective products and their potential and continued advantages for the industry on the opening day of the three-day extravaganza at ExCeL in London’s Docklands.

The environment, sustainability, quality and consumer satisfaction were key topics for all of the speakers. There was also news on how products such as PET bottles and screwcaps were gaining a foothold in the drinks industry, either with improved products or increasing market share. PET bottles have been improved with the introduction of multi-layered containers which has meant an increased shelf-life for the wine inside as well as remaining 88% lighter than glass, thereby reducing any carbon footprint.

The look has also been modified to look less like plastic and more like glass which enhances its appeal to the consumer. “It retains all the tradition of glass in looks but with added convenience for the consumer and benefits for the environment,” said Clare Montgomery, sales director at Roger Harris Wines.

Bruno de Saizieu, Flexibles capsules sales director at Amcor, reported the near unstoppable surge in the use of screwcaps and stated his belief that by 2015 they would have a 50% market share, just as Robert Parker predicted in 2005.

“Now in 2010, screwcaps account for 20% of the whole market,” he said. “Five years ago my figures for New Zealand were that they would have a 50% market share, no more. Today, however, it is 95% and we will see that same kind of growth in South America.

“We are taking 10% to 15% market share a year, the development of screwcap will go on,” he concluded.

However, Carlos de Jesus, director of marketing and communications at Amorim, had words of caution for the aluminium closure.

“The death of the cork was forecast about 10 years ago but it’s not dead yet. We still have a 72% share, that is far from being dead, far from being irrelevant. It will stay for quite some time,” he said.

“The past decade has been characterised by the loss in cork’s market share and screwcaps’ rise,” he said. “However, a lot of the markets that have taken on screwcap are struggling, look at Australia.

People still see glass and cork as being the premium product. “Different horses for different courses. We will have to live with each other.”

Meanwhile, Paul Schaafsma, general manager for UK and Europe at Australian Vintage, reminded producers of the role they could play in cutting costs and driving business by shedding unnecessary packaging.

He said that Australian Vintage has begun shipping bulk wine to the UK to be bottled as it was more cost effective than shipping it ready bottled. In 12 months it had reduced its packaging by 1,300 tons and it was aiming for a 25% reduction by 2020.

Barry Dick, product technologist, BWS, for Sainsbury’s, put the innovations into perspective from a retailers’ perspective. He argued that, “packaging needs to deliver a quality drinking experience and value.”

Customers, he said, tend to base their buying decisions on previous knowledge, belief in quality and a sense of occasion or knowing when they would drink the wine.

That knowledge is increasing all the time and people are becoming more flexible in their drinking, so new packaging has to continue to appeal to them and take into account their increased awareness of environmental concerns.

Finally, Jane Masters MW reminded everyone that while just saying that a product was recyclable was easy, the process of recycling often released harmful chemicals as a result and thought had to be given to the continued use of a bottle not just its immediate role as a container. “All these products have their own constraints,” she said.

“These products are less bad than we were using before but I believe environmental and ecological issues will become more important over the next few years.”

For those of you who missed the seminar keep an eye on the drinks business’ website for the DBTV film of the event.

Rupert Millar, 18.05.20

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