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With global volumes growing year on year from an already sizeable base, wine is an attention-grabbing category for closure manufacturers. The traditional glass bottle remains the clearly dominant pack type in still light grape wine, with over 85% of the product retailed in this pack type globally. Cork is unsurprisingly positioned as the leading closure type for still wine bottled in glass, although metal screw caps are becoming increasingly prevalent. Despite the fact that some cork manufacturers are looking to address the rise of metal, they are unlikely to be able to disrupt the rise of the rival option.
Combined, corks and metal screw closures account for over 99% of all retail still wine sold in glass bottles. While the dominance of these two closure types remained unchallenged over 2008-2013, the preference among consumers and wine producers alike for the benefits offered by the metal screw cap saw its performance outdo that of cork.
After continuous growth over 2008-2013, metal screw caps were the chosen closure type for 29% of glass bottles of still light wine in 2013, up nine percentage points from 2008.
Although it has previously been a bigger issue, the primary consumer concern over cork seals is the negative impact the material can have on the wine. Furthermore, as with many products derived from natural sources, cork is subject to fluctuations in the cost, availability and quality of the raw material, creating uncertainties over the ability of manufacturers to source the necessary components. The apprehension some consumers feel towards cork is compounded by the relative inconvenience of using such a closure type. Metal screw closures are easier to remove than corks, and do not require the use of additional tools, making them more suitable for consumption away from the home. They also have the big advantage of being completely resealable, allowing for increased portability and storage.
The partnership between O-I and Amorim, respectively the largest producers of glass bottles and corks, has yielded a new, traditional cork closure designed with the rise of metal caps in mind. The new Helix cork is produced with moulded grooves that fit into an internal thread in the neck of the glass bottle. As a result, wine can be resealed easily, while the theatrical pop of the cork is retained. While Helix is an example of cork manufacturers refusing to concede share without a fight, the impact that such a product is likely to have is difficult to gauge at present. Adapting to, and negating, the advantages of metal screw closures seems a smart way to counteract declining share, but the need to use specifically threaded bottles may prove prohibitive.