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With 6% retail unit volume growth globally over 2012, the wine bag in box has a few good years ahead. Although it will see its fastest growth within developing countries, its biggest volume growth opportunities interestingly remain linked to mature countries and the way wine is consumed in those regions… with the “Old World” being especially promising.
The bag in box format saw a dynamic 9% growth in Latin America over 2012. However, the pack format remains a very minor feature of wine packaging in the emerging markets of Latin America as well as Asia Pacific. Wine is a product going from strength to strength in developing countries, where the perception of quality and links with the tradition of wine drinking in the “Old World” prevent any pack type from significantly challenging the glass bottle. Glass’ future is particularly bright in China, where a growing mid-income group continues to embrace the culture of drinking wine, with very little prospects of competition from any other pack types.
Bag in box is meanwhile expanding rapidly in actual unit sales among some of the largest wine drinking countries in North America and also Europe, interestingly where the 750ml glass bottle has long been inseparable from wine consumption patterns. Some of the heaviest wine consuming countries continue to free themselves from traditions around wine drinking and embrace bag in box packaging as an alternative to the standard glass bottle. The US is the largest bag in box consumer country in the world and posted 6% unit growth over 2012. The economy factor offered by the bag in box format in comparison to the glass bottle has been embraced by American consumers, who are already familiar with value for money packaging in spirits and beer, in particular through the use of PET bottles. The convenience factor is the second driver behind the success of bag in box in the US, with the three-litre format largely benefiting from a growing pattern of wine consumption outdoors as its size and light weight enable it to be easily carried to the park or beach.
Western Europe is a more complex and diverse wine packaging region, being very much ruled by diverse wine consumption occasions and demographic groups. Perhaps most interestingly, France is offering some of the best prospects for bag in box at the expense of glass bottles, with this being a traditional wine drinking country and also the heaviest consumer in Europe in volume terms. The French model is characterised by high demand for value for money wine combined with a broad and quality offering endorsed by retailers. This contrasts with Italy and Spain, where wine drinking remains more tied to the ritual of the glass bottle. However, provided that bag in box suppliers can work with private label suppliers, something similar to the French model could start to be seen in such countries. Spanish consumers are for example already enjoying wine-based RTDs such as sangria and tinto del verano in liquid cartons.