Once a modest niche category, the canned wine movement has gathered pace over the past five years and is now one of the industry’s fastest growing categories. According to Nielsen in the USA the $45 million business only makes up around 1% of total wine sales, wine can sales increased by 69% by valueand 49% by volume during 2018.
The surge in interest for this alternative packaging format is largely being driven by millenials who tend to view these products as more relaxed and less pretentious than bottled wine. Also attractive is the ease of opening pull-top cans versus traditional bottles sealed with corks. Canned wines are easier and lighter to transportthan bulky bottles and can be taken on picnics and to sporting events and festivals where glass is typically banned.
Another key driver for the canned wine market is pricing. Younger consumers tend to have lower levels of disposable income and the smaller format of cans makes them more affordable compared with buying a full 750ml bottle. In the USA an average 750ml bottle of wine costs between $11-$25 whereas a 375ml can of wine typically costs just $4-$7.
This smaller serving also has benefits for ambitious winemakers looking to launch new products onto the market. Recent research by E. & J. Gallo Wineryshowed that one in four wine consumers would be more open to trying new wines if they didn’t have to buy a full-sized bottle.
In response to the growing interest from consumers, more and more major brands are launching their own canned wine ranges. One example is the E. & J. Gallo Winery brand, Dark Horse, which features rose and Pinot Grigio in cans. The brand saw sales grow by 38 percent over the course of 2018. Other big names who have joined the canned wine revolution in the USA include Barefoot, Trader Joe’s Simpler Wines and Francis Ford Coppola.
Outside of the USA, other markets are also picking up on the convenience and cost advantages of canned wines. In the UK supermarkets are embracing the nascent canned wine movement and independent brands are emerging like The Uncommon which is breaking new ground by producing the first canned English sparkling wines to hit the market.
This rapidly-growing category is making inroads in retail and the on-trade as casual dining restaurants embrace the easy-to-use format and reduced storage requirements. “We’re witnessing the greatest democratization of wine in our lifetime,” said David Weitzenhoffer, general manager of Stupendous Cellars which produces Right Now canned wines.“When we buy a bottle, we fuss over the vintages, what we’re having for dinner or the type of glasses we’re using. When we drink wine from a can, the portability is part of it, but the more important underlying sentiment is that we can enjoy wine without having to overthink it.”
The future looks very bright for canned wine, so much so that Angela Allison founded the cans-only wine brand WineSociety in January 2018. “I think it could definitely grow to be 30 percent of the category within five years,” Allison told Forbes recently. “Thirty percent of craft beer is now sold in cans, and we anticipate wine to follow in the footsteps of craft beer. We anticipate the sales growth to be as fast or at a faster clip than the growth of craft beer in cans.”