Aug 08: With a small sales base of $2 million in 2012, the global wine-in-can (WIC) segment has jumped over 90 times in 8 years with sales of about 1.8 million cases recording a jump of 68% last year alone, making Indian industry also take note with Fratelli bringing out 5 variants in a couple of weeks from Akluj and Karnataka plant while Sula already pioneered with two variants of Dia bubbly launched last year at Sulafest and more may be in the offing, writes Subhash Arora
Fratelli Wines could soon become a leader in capturing the new global trend. They seem to be really gung-ho about WIC and are already in the process of setting up a canning facility both in Akluj and their Karnataka leased plant. Planning to release 5 variants in another 2-3 weeks, they are introducing a new Label TILT for the Brut and Rose Brut (perhaps a Frizzante at 2.5-3 bars pressure), Red and White.
Priced at around Rs. 175 for a 250 mL Can in Mumbai and Delhi, it will offer the possibility to drink 2 glasses of 125 mL at less than Rs. 100 a glass, a good price for wine to become popular with the masses, and a great boost for the on- the- go millennials willing to experiment. At 11% alcohol by Volume, it will be still a low alcohol wine range. But if you prefer wine at still a lower alcohol level, there will be Noi Spritzer to entice you at 8% alcohol and Rs. 150 tab for the same size. The attractive packaging of Tilt and an excellent reputation of Noi Brut ought to be a sure winner in this segment.
Grover Vineyards with a lot of technological and innovative advances in the planning stage, including setting up an RTD line, has been slow in the WIC segment. Ravi Viswanathan, Singapore-based Chairman of Grover informs delWine, ‘We are thinking about it. As a consumer I have tried some of these wines in a can in recent months but the quality was uniformly poor so my best guess is that if we do something it won’t be under a high end brand.’
Sula Vineyard has been, of course, a pioneer for the Wine-in-the-Can category just as it was in screw caps when they were not very acceptable to Indian consumers. Though produced only at its Nashik winery, it introduced Dia in a Can in two variants at Sulafest 2019 and has had good success with it and hopes to sell 150,000-200,000 Cans in a year. Priced at Rs. 180 for a 375 mL Can, the off-dry bubbly (Frizzante-at lower pressure than Champagne/Prosecco or India bottled Brut with traditional method), it offers even a cheaper option to novices, young women and millennials at Rs. 60 a glass (125 mL).
Other Indian producers are two small to consider investing in the WIC canning facility. Ravi Gurnani, partner of 35,000-40,000 case York Winery says, ‘we don’t have any such plans. Our volumes do not justify getting into the WIC segment. We are happy to promote value-for-money quality wines and also half bottles where we find good scope.’ Stringent excise laws also leave no scope for contract canning, says Ravi.
It appears that the WIC segment is for now sticking to the lower-ended wines as is the international trend where it is the fastest-growing segment of the market, tempting consumers with its convenience and easily approachable wines. The total sales revenues of about $183 million for 1.8 million cases, means the equivalent of slightly over $100 a case of 9 liters.
The main benefit of cans is versatility and convenience. When Francis Ford Coppola Winery introduced the first modern American canned wine, the Sofia Mini bubbly in 2004, his reasoning was ‘that in the wine business it's very difficult to buy a single serving. You can go in and buy a can of Pepsi or Budweiser, but you can't buy just a can of wine.' Of course, delWine recommends a glass of wine of 125 mL and thus 250mL is ideal for a man and a 375 mL healthy pour for a couple per day.
Another major benefit of aluminium cans is environmental. According to the Container Recycling Institute, aluminium cans are recycled 45.2 percent of the time in the U.S., while glass bottles only at 27.8 percent.
The recyclable packaging in Cans is resistant to oxidation and light with no risk of cork taint. It is easier and lighter to carry and cheaper to ship than glass, with producers generally admitting to about 25 percent decrease in costs due to packaging.
Dr. Robert Williams, a Marketing professor in the universities in the US and co-founder of WICResearch who was a speaker in November last year at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition in Amsterdam, which I have been attending for several years, is very bullish about the WIC market. The vibrant US market currently has the maximum potential, with over 400 winemakers offering over 1,000 SKUs of WIC, he said. The UK and Australia are also growing rapidly followed by Europe, South America, and South Africa. They are popular with those generally interested in bulk wine packaged in cans.
According to Robert, the growth of WIC demand is driven by 6 factors- Convenience, Occasion expansion, Sustainability/cost savings, Quality, Portion control/Variety, and Visual image/branding. Millennials are the biggest category as a segment although even retirees in their 80s are the customers. But only 60 percent of respondents in a survey conducted by WICResearch, were aware of the WIC options and they could not remember a brand name selling in this packaging.
Trinchero recently launched its first entry into the realm of canned wine with Pomelo Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc, joining several major wine industry players including E. & J. Gallo (Dark Horse and Barefoot Spritzer), Constellation Brands (Crafter’s Union, Kim Crawford and Woodbridge) and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (14 hands). Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville installed a new line this year and is producing some of its Diamond Collection wines in 250ml cans, including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, according to Wine Spectator.
In the US, all the top wineries and distributors offer cans in various varietals, but in the budget range. About 450 wineries across 25 American States and 22 countries are currently making wine-in- can, including India.
The WIC market will never achieve the kind of success achieved by screw caps but it is a category that has come a long way from being just a fad 8 years ago and a lot more is yet to come in this packaging.
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