Exports of Australian wine in alternative packaging – such as cans and single-serve plastic glasses – are on the rise. While clearly a niche market, in the last three years, exports in alternative packaging have almost doubled from $3.5 million to $6.5 million (see figure 1).
The growth has come primarily in exports to Asia and North America, and around 60 per cent of exports were wines in cans. Currently within the canned category, 52 per cent is carbonated wines, 36 per cent is white wine, 7 per cent is red wine and 5 per cent is sparkling wine.
Figure 1: Australian wine exports in alternative packaging
Japan – the largest destination for alternative packaging
Japan is the largest destination for Australian exports in alternative packaging with a 40 per cent share. Importantly, exports in alternative packaging achieve a relatively high average price of $6.94 per litre compared to the bottled average price of $4.97 per litre.
Wine in cans makes up more than 80 per cent of the alternative packaging exports to Japan. Cans are extremely popular in Japan, where most types of beverages are available in cans. One of the reasons for the acceptance of cans in Japan is the popularity of vending machines. According to the Japan National Tourism Organisation, there are currently about 5.5 million vending machines in Japan.
Strong growth in North America
There has also been strong in exports of wine in cans to North America, with exports to Canada increasing almost ten-fold in the last 12 months to $1.2 million. Nielsen reported that, in the 12 months ended July 2016, sales of wine in cans in the United States increased by 125 per cent compared to the previous year.
Younger consumers leading the trend
Wine in cans or pre-packaged by the glass is targeted at younger consumers who want convenience. Cans and glasses offer the ability to enjoy one or two glasses rather than a full bottle. From a price perspective, a smaller serve is also a less risky proposition. Wine in cans and pre-packaged single-serve plastic glasses also provide a convenient and transportable option for outdoor activities such as camping and sporting events.
Furthermore, cans are also arguably more environmentally friendly as they are more easily recycled. Cans also have a lower carbon footprint as they are much lighter to ship than glass bottles. This also reduces the cost of shipping.