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On-trade ‘needs to embrace bag-in-box’

Bars and restaurants should be more upfront about serving bag-in-box wines to customers in order to change public perception, a wine retailer has claimed.

Kirsty Tinkler, who runs monthly wine club Weino, and was the brains behind recent bag-in-box pop-up wine bar B.I.B said bars and restaurants need to embrace the format openly in order to tackle the problem of waste.

“For me, it’s a natural progression for the industry. If consumers knew how many pubs and restaurants don’t recycle glass they use, they would be shocked,” she told the drinks business, pointing out that could be the equivalent of “several month’s worth of domestic glass waste” over a weekend.

“From an industry and waste-management point of view, it is important to take it in this direction,” she noted.

There is a big opportunity to promote bag-in-box wine in the on-trade, she said, because many people wouldn’t realize that some of the new wave of boutique bars and restaurants might already be serving wine from a box. It also was able to avoid many of the delivery costs and associated with selling wine direct to consumers online or via the off-trade, she added.

“Bars and restaurants are still shying away – but it needs to be more visible, like a tap room in a chic craft brewery,” she added. “It is about changing people’s perceptions.”

Tinkler saw momentum gather at B.I.B, the pop-up wine bar she ran throughout November in Dalston’s Brunswick East Cafe, following an early response from the public and press. This was due in part to the quality and price of the wines as much as to the “theatricality” of the service and strong eco-credentials, she noted.

However she argues the industry needs an easier distribution model, admitting she had had some trouble sourcing the wines, despite her database of contacts accrued through running the wine club.

“There are a couple of people pioneering it, but it is still in its adolescence,” she said. “B.I.B served five whites and nine reds from the Old World – principally France, Spain and Italy, as although I was looking to go further east, to Hungary and Slovenia, I couldn’t find anything,” she said. “It was not easy to do – people [suppliers] were not that interested initially but people do seem to be increasingly keen. And once the pop-up started, they started to come out of the woodwork and it is becoming a growing concern.”

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