“The perfect closure does not exist”, says Dr. Rainer Jung from the world renowned Geisenheim Research Centre. Jung and his team have intensively examined the subject of closures over the last few years since the problems faced by the German wine industry, especially with white wines where they were creating negative sensory effects due to the TCA. A large number of German winegrowers felt were upset and were looking for alternatives.
Plastic corks initially enjoyed success and now have a considerable market share. However, there is also strong demand at present for screw caps, especially the so-called BVS variants with an integrated cap.
‘High-quality BVS screw-type caps with multi-coloured print variants are clearly in vogue, ‘say Peter and Joachim Reis from Reis Flaschengrosshandel GmbH, which plans to present its new product range at IVIF 2010. Moreover, the trade fair will naturally be influenced by the fact that demand has also recently been seen for BVS bottles for sparkling wine.
There has been a fair amount of activity on the closures market and several new innovations can be expected at IVIF 2010. For instance, Closure Systems International (CSI) is planning to present an aluminium roll-on cap as a securing element for the Vino-Lok glass closure which is already quite popular in Germany.
Due to the increasing demand for alternatives to natural cork, cork manufacturers are now acting for the most part as suppliers of complete closure solutions. Suppliers also attach great importance to a wide range of products.
Moreover, natural cork has also started acquiring good reputation once again in the meantime. This is due to enormous investments in cork production. Practically every company uses a special selection process, washing process or cleaning process.
Amorin, the market leader from Portugal, for example uses a steam distillation process which, according to the company is capable of extracting TCA from the cork material. “We are planning to extend this process to all our natural cork batches by the end of 2009. We will present the new industry standard based on this process at INTERVITIS INTERFRUCTA 2010”, said Gert Reis, MD of Amorim Deutschland.
Glass bottles are still the primary containers. But due to availability restraints, high prices, more design options available for alternative containers and the environmental considerations have forced wineries to increasingly move towards alternative packaging systems.
Bag-in-box containers (BiB), which have long been the preferred system for milk or juices, are now also a topic of discussion in the wine industry and will undoubtedly get more attention during IVIF 2010. Cardboard packaging and BiB containers are already very important on the Scandinavian market and a similar development is expected on other markets in future.
Wine in cans or aluminium bottles would be the other area of discussion. Market insiders regard PET bottles in particular as another interesting alternative. Especially in the USA and Canada, PET wine bottles are currently enjoying great success. It is quite conceivable that interest in PET wine bottles will continue to grow and become very strong in other parts of the world. It is expected that PET containers for wine will be one of the main points of discussion during IVIF 2010.
The Geisenheim Research Centre is also looking more closely at new container variants. According to Dr. Jung, both the BiB solution and the PET solution are generally suitable for holding wine. Although the tests are still ongoing, it is already clear that bag-in-box packaging is well-suited as a partial package. ‘Even with opened containers, the quality of the wine is retained over a longer period of time, said Dr. Jung. Due to the possible packaging size of over 10 litres, this is not only an interesting aspect for private consumers, but also in particular for restaurant owners.
The robust KEG barrel is also being increasingly well received by restaurant owners. Development is also continuing in this respect- as an alternative to the returnable solution, a company will exhibit a 30-litre disposable variant made of steel at IVIF 2010. In terms of its cost-effectiveness, handling and environmental friendliness, the disposable KEG could be an attractive alternative to plastic solutions or returnable KEGs. This would be especially useful when it has to be transported over long distances or in the case of wine exports which will save on the carbon footprint too - the longer the journey, the better the total CO2 balance of every individual KEG. Less water is also used because there is no need to clean the KEG.
It is also very important for suppliers of closures to know how much carbon dioxide and water their product consumes until it reaches the market. This topic will be a part of discussions too at the IVIF 2010 where Amorin will also be making a pitch about their improved natural corks which are washed almost naturally, are optimised in sensory and technical terms, and are manufactured ecologically.
When the Aussies and NZs of the world are continuously switching to the screwcaps, would the discussions at the trade show bring back the closures controversy to a full circle? You will have to attend to find out but it will definitely provide valuable new input regarding ecology and is well recommended for the producers to whom closures and containers are a continuously changing variable in winemaking and those who are fascinated by the cork debate, because as Dr. Jung so aptly puts it,
The perfect closure does not exist.