Packaging giant Tetra Pak has partnered producer Greencroft Bottling Company (part of the Northern Ireland-based Lanchester Wine Group) in a move it said would also provide consumers and retailers with a convenient, credible alternative to glass bottles, namely its Tetra Prisma Aseptic 75cl carton.
Asked why it had taken Tetra Pak longer to crack the UK market, Ian Williamson, retail manager, Tetra Pak UK, told BeverageDaily.com that cartons had, until now, been imported into the UK in small quantities, in both 25cl and 100cl formats.
Williamson said: "The partnership between Greencroft Bottling LTD and Tetra Pak means that, for the first time, the machinery is in place to enable wine to packed in cartons in the UK, therefore allowing wine producers, wine brands and retailers to capitalise on the significant commercial and logistical benefits of using cartons to package wine.
Achieving critical mass
He added: "To achieve a critical mass for consumer trial and acceptance, it is important to use a 75cl domestically produced carton solution which is now available. In other markets such as Italy and Spain wine in cartons is readily accepted and, just like the UK, took some time to establish place in the category.
For retailers and wine brands, Tetra Pak cartons "offer lower materials costs and a final product that is extremely space-efficient, meaning more products can be merchandised on-shelf, maximising return per square foot of selling space," Williamson said.
"Cartons also bring clear on-shelf brand and tier-differentiation and, while branding on bottles is usually limited to two labels, Tetra Pak cartons offer a 100% printing surface area, providing multiple branding opportunities," he added.
Fuel and haulage savings
For consumers, cartons provide a convenient, safe and environmentally-friendly alternative to glass bottles, Williamson said, since they were widely recyclable, lightweight, shatter-proof, easy to grip, store, pour and re-seal; cartons also stopped oxygen and UV light contamination.
Tetra Pak also claimed its cartons were lightweight and space efficient, and said that one million litres of wine packed in Tetra Prisma Aseptic 750ml cartons could save up to 436 tonnes of packaging versus standard glass bottles, with consequent savings in fuel and haulage space.
With these benefits in mind, Williamson added that research by Wine Intelligence showed that the likelihood of consumers purchasing wine in cartons rose from 40% to 66% when consumers saw, felt and experienced wine packaged in this way.
But did Williamson believe that cartons had a future paired with higher-end wines, given the conservatism sometimes attached to the wine sector, and potential brandowner resistance to carton uptake despite practical advantages?
"Cartons are a credible alternative to glass bottles for wines at all price points. They do not adversely affect the quality or taste of the wine and provide better protection than glass bottles which cannot completely protect against the penetration of UV light, which causes degradation of the otherwise stable organic compounds found in wine, especially the tannins.
He added: "As for quality wines, there is no reason why these too cannot be packed in cartons. A launch of a Chateauneuf-du-Pape in Sweden and other quality wines were readily accepted by Nordic consumers.
"Moreover, at the London International Wine Fair this week, Italian wines in a carton: Quarter Trebbiano, Sangiovese, Sangiovese Rose all won IWC medals of commendation, with the Rose also achieving a bronze award from IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition)."