Steady Sauvignon ideal for canning
The international canned wine market is predicted to grow by double digits over the coming years, fuelled by a range of drivers including portability, convenience, single-serve sizes and innovation. As Sauvignon Blanc enthusiasts prepare to enjoy International Sauvignon Blanc Day this week, South African wine consultant and author of a book on canning wine Dr Carien Coetzee takes a look at the varietal’s suitability for this upcoming format.
Canned wine is recognised as the fastest growing wine packaging across the market and statistics suggest the trend will continue to grow at a compound annual rate of roughly 13% a year.1 For the consumer, the advantages of wine in cans are clear given the convenience, recyclability, ease of serving and reduced risk of breakage. And many wine professionals are beginning to recognize that wines in cans can be just as complicated as their bottled counterparts and equally interesting to drink. For the trade, too, there are advantages. Other than the economic benefits owed to the smaller format and more efficient transport, the packaging also takes up less space in retail storerooms and on-premise venues such as bars and pubs. Additionally, there are more opportunities to make a higher margin than a standard 750 mL bottle would normally offer.
Despite the numerous positive attributes, wine in cans still faces several challenges, including continued resistance in more traditional wine markets and negative quality perceptions by some consumers. However, perceptions toward canned wine are changing steadily especially as the canning technology improves and as consumers become more exposed to this format. As more consumers start to adopt canned wines, strategic and consumer-centric product decisions will help to increase market share.
Not all wine styles will fare equally well in the canned packaging and producers should give some thought to which types and styles of wines to package in aluminium cans. This is especially important considering the operational and technical considerations and limitations that can impact the quality of the wine in a can.2 The technical hurdles are slowly and steadily being overcome as technology and experience improve. Therefore, when considering the wine variety and style to be packaged in cans, a consumer perspective should weigh heavily.
Consumer trust in Sauvignon Blanc key to cans
When entering new territory such as canned wines, it would be wise to opt for a product that the consumer knows and trusts. This is where understanding the consumer’s buying behaviour is critical. In a study3 including data collected from more than 2,000 South African wine consumers, it appears as if consumers attach brand status to Sauvignon Blanc as an entity which is an important quality cue when making a purchasing decision. “The key to the success of Sauvignon Blanc seems to be in its sensory consistency that shaped consumer expectations over the years. When consumers know what to expect from a wine in terms of taste, it reduces their uncertainty, resulting in a ‘socially safe wine’ and an easy choice for time-pressed wine shoppers,” says consumer research expert Dr Nadia van der Colff. While adopting an unfamiliar packaging format, Sauvignon Blanc – the trusted stalwart – could be a significant purchase driver in the canned wine category.
Similar to canned wines, Sauvignon Blanc consumption is often driven by occasion. It is a popular casual option, with 70% of usage occasions being informal meals with family or friends — 21% being an impromptu get together.4Younger drinkers (25-44 years) are the most open to the concept of wine in cans and millennials in the US are 50% more likely to buy wine in a can once they are aware the format exists, according to Wine Intelligence consumer research5. The canned wine industry, therefore, presents a tremendous opportunity to introduce more consumers (especially wine newcomers) to Sauvignon Blanc.
Ticking all the boxes
Most canned beverages are consumed shortly after purchase and are fizzy and served chilled. Sauvignon Blanc’s fresh flavours, zippy acidity and relatively higher dissolved gas content make it the perfect choice of wine varietal for the canned wine industry. Sauvignon Blanc appeals to a wide range of wine enthusiasts with its straightforwardness in rarely hidden flavours often reflecting the region and even the site where it was grown. Sauvignon Blanc does not allow itself to be constrained into definitive stylistic parameters and is capable of producing a variety of styles from pungent fruit-forward wines to wines with greener aromatics to the more subdued classic mineral nuances that consumers have come to know and love. This diversity of styles leaves enough space for consumers to explore varying tastes and preferences within the trusted Sauvignon Blanc sphere.
It is clear that Sauvignon Blanc ticks all the boxes and can help to elevate the canned wine sector, similarly, the packaging also offers several benefits to the varietal. The canned packaging offers convenience and a smaller price barrier, while Sauvignon Blanc installs confidence in the consumer when making a purchasing decision. This collaboration allows the safe exploration of the product and could encourage new consumers (new to either wine or canned wine) to delve into the world of quality canned wine.
(1) Canned Wines Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product (Sparkling, Fortified), By Distribution Channel (Supermarket & Hypermarket, Online), By Region (APAC, North America), And Segment Forecasts, 2021 – 2028. Grand View Research 2021.
(2) Coetzee, C. The Winemaker’s Guide to Wine in a Can; Winetech, 2021.
(3) van der Colff, N. Sauvignon Blanc from a Consumer Perspective. A True Brand? sauvignonblanc.com 2020.
(4) THE RICH DIVERSITY OF SAUVIGNON BLANC A Guide to Growth and Helping Consumers Discover Their Style https://www.winedialogues.com/trade/insights/the-rich-diversity-of-sauvignon-blanc.
(5) ASWANI, S. 6 KEY FACTORS WINE BUSINESSES SHOULD CONSIDER WHEN EVALUATING THE OPPORTUNITY FOR WINE IN CANS. Wine Intelligence 2021.