Many makers of lower-priced wine have been using plastic bottles for their products to meet the demand from drinkers looking for convenient light-weight package. Event holders also want wine in plastic bottles for venues where traditional glass bottles are not allowed.
Because the plastic bottles weigh less than glass bottles, wine makers can also save on the costs of freight and distribution.
Constar International said yesterday it will launch a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) container for wines at this week Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, California.
The company's unbreakable plastic bottle uses packaging technology to help extend the shelf life of wine.
Starshield incorporates Constar's Oxbar active oxygen scavenger. The coating provides protection against oxygen permeating the walls of the PET container, thus slowing down the oxidation of the wine. The Oxbar technology can enable the wine to have a shelf life of a year or more, Constar claims.
At the Sacramento show Constar will display claret bottle designs in 187 ml, 375 ml, 750 ml, 1L and 1.5L sizes. The bottles are available in clear or deadleaf green.
The company also offer finishes for aluminum and plastic threaded closures, allowing the bottles to be opened and re-closed. The company says it is working on other types of finishes for bottle closures suitable for wine.
It will go head-to-head with Ball Corp., which said it will present its plastic bottle offerings at the show. Balling is offering a custom 187ml PET bottle. Sales of single-serve, 187 ml wine bottles grew nearly 20 per cent last year, stated Jerry Rosenow, national wine category manager for Ball.
"The size is just right for today's growing portion of smaller households and consumers for whom a 750ml bottle is just too much for the occasion," he stated.
In addition to its stock containers, Ball designed a custom 187 ml PET wine bottle for Sutter Home Winery. The winery launched four varieties in the PET 187 ml bottles into selected markets last fall and continues to expand its distribution.
"We already had a single serve size in our 187 ml glass bottles and believed that adding PET would only increase the level of convenience for consumers and expand our package mix in line with market demands," stated Wendy Nyberg, senior director of marketing for Sutter Home.
Ball designed the Sutter Home bottles to run on the winery's existing glass lines in order to reduce the need for changing parts and to simplify the filling process.
PET has the practical benefit of being lightweight, shatterproof and recloseable. It is also completely recyclable. However PET, and plastic in general, is not very good at keeping oxygen from permeating the container and reducing the shelf life of such products as juices, teas and flavored water.
Oxygen has a degrading effect on flavor, color and vitamin content for many beverages. Thus many PET bottle manufacturers have developed special oxygen barrier materials that can be incorporated in PET.