Glass remains the consumer-preferred packaging for wine. Diana Goff, the Global Foresights Manager at O-I, outlines the reasons for glass’s preferred status and illustrates some of the initiatives the company is introducing to extend the appeal of glass.
As a market research analyst, I love data. And the fact that Euromonitor reveals 85% of wine packs are made of glass speaks of the material’s dominance in this vital market.
This dominance is expected to continue and it’s supported by consumers who are actively seeking to lead sustainable lives and consider sustainable packaging important for products they purchase.
Wine Intelligence research has highlighted a number of reasons why glass bottles work so well from a consumer point of view: they convey reassurance by reflecting the values, tradition, and quality of wine - and they look good on a table.
What is more, both wine and glass bottles are made from natural products, and consumers consider glass bottles more environmentally friendly than plastic. So, it is no surprise that consumers have a deep-routed preference for the 75cl glass bottle. Looking deeper at the Wine Intelligence research on sustainability and wine, regular wine drinkers around the world agree that glass is the most sustainable form of wine packaging.
Nearly half of regular wine drinkers always buy sustainable products and are willing to pay more for them. This is particularly the case among younger drinkers; in the UK, 70% of wine buyers aged 18-34 feel a greener pack would encourage them to purchase.
Glass is not only chosen for how sustainable it is, but it is also consistently chosen as the healthiest pack type.
The same interest in sustainability and health is apparent when we look at the sectors of the wine market growing most strongly: low and no alcohol still wines grew nearly 31% from 2016-21 while organic wine was up 7%. People are also drinking less but looking for better quality.
It is also apparent that the people seeking premium products are more likely than others to be concerned about the climate crisis. Premium and sustainable used to be considered as separate categories – now the trends are merging.
This is why O-I is taking the lead in sustainable premium packaging. Readers will know of O-I : EXPRESSIONS, the direct to glass, late-stage customisation process which has achieved great success in the wine sector, supporting brands such as Monnalisa, Chateau Bas and La Pettegola.
The latter features an augmented reality experience designed by Van Orton Design and delivered by 3-D printed embossing.
As consumers become more concerned about the environment, we see that the wine industry is also increasingly looking at light-weighting their packaging.
According to a 2019 Vinitrac research conducted with wine trade professionals, 65% of respondents agreed that light-weight glass bottles would represent the greatest opportunity for offering more sustainable wine packaging in the future.
This is seen most clearly in the 100% Sicily bottle, made with up to 90% recycled glass with special embossing for Sicilian winemakers who wanted to create a distinctive and easy to spot identity for their artisanal products.
Of course, all glass packaging should be made as sustainably as possible and increasing recycled content to at least 50% globally by 2030 is one of our sustainability goals.
That is why O-I is also investing in more recycling plants and collection initiatives. Our new processing plant in the Prosecco region of Italy uses innovative technology to clean smaller pieces of glass than ever to create usable cullet, while we are working with local authorities across the US to increase glass collection levels, which have traditionally lagged behind Europe.
We are increasing our use of renewable energy, having signed a partnership with ENGIE to supply European and North American glass plants with power from solar, wind and hydro sources.
Most recently, a €34 million investment in Gas Oxy Advanced Technology (GOAT) at O-I’s Vayres plant, which supplies wine bottles to Bordeaux, cuts CO2 emissions by 20% and NOX emissions by 60%.
Why does this matter? Consumers are more loyal to brands which actively implement social and environmental initiatives. According to a GlobalData survey in 2022, 67% of consumers aged 25-44 agreed they are more loyal to brands that support green matters.
Sustainable wine and glass
In conclusion, let us return to the data. Wine Intelligence asked consumers to consider the attributes of sustainable wine. 40% said it was more environmentally friendly and 35% more ethically responsible.
These figures were even stronger in the UK (44% and 42% respectively). Factors such as made with fewer chemical additives, better for my health and higher quality also registered strongly.
These factors overlay precisely with the reasons people give for choosing glass – it is less harmful to the environment, ethically responsible, made from the purest ingredients, better for health and of higher quality.
Where wine is concerned, glass ties in with the times. As we continue our efforts to enhance sustainability, we will justify the confidence of the eight in ten Europeans who see glass as a material fit for the future.