Carton packages part of the solution in Italy’s shrinking wine market

Like many European markets, Italy has experienced a shift in wine consumption, with the amount being drunk going down, but the quality going up. Despite this development, there are several promising growth areas where carton packages form part of the solution.

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Carton packages part of the solution in Italy’s shrinking wine market

Like many European markets, Italy has experienced a shift in wine consumption, with the amount being drunk going down, but the quality going up. Despite this development, there are several promising growth areas where carton packages form part of the solution.

If you say you are thirsty and are given a glass of wine instead of water, you are probably in Italy, so the saying goes. Wine is as much a part of il bel paese as pasta; both production and consumption have long been among the highest of any wine-drinking nation. Back in 1975, Italians consumed 100 litres per person per year, and much of this was vino da tavola (table wine). 

Forty years later, in 2015, the situation had changed dramatically. Italy had become the world’s largest wine producer (besting long-time rival France) but Italians were drinking only 35 litres per person per year – a 60 percent drop. However, this drop in volume has not affected wine sales in value terms because higher-quality (read: more expensive) vintages have taken the place of table wines. What was lost in quantity has been more than compensated by the price of the wine.   

Megatrends behind consumption drop

Agricultural cooperative Caviro has experienced these changes first-hand. Caviro is Italy’s largest producer of table wine, and the country’s market leader for wine in carton packaging. “Market volume has been declining for years due to changing externals,” explains Elena Giovannini, Marketing Manager at Caviro. “Greater urbanization, fewer meals eaten at home, and greater sensitivity to health issues are all contributing factors.”

“Wine today is seen as a product of excellence,” observes Riccardo Corradini, Marketing Manager, Tetra Pak Italy.  The company has identified several promising areas of growth in light of these market trends.

One is the organic, or environmentally sensitive, wine segment, where carton packages fit perfectly. Tetra Pak carton packages protect the inherent properties of wine effectively. At the same time, they have a smaller carbon footprint than glass, are lighter and less likely to break, are recyclable, and made of a renewable material. “This market segment is growing well,” Corradini notes. 

Quality and convenience

Caviro’s Giovannini concurs, especially for markets such as Germany, where the quality and convenience of Italian table wines in carton packages are recognized. Germans are predisposed to value Italian wine highly, she says. The company’s Tavernello brand uses predominantly Trebbiano grapes for its white wine and Sangiovese for its red; both are basic wines of excellent quality.

A wine with the IGT label ((Indicazione Geografia Tipica, or protected geographical indication) has more market cachet than a simple table wine, so some producers are putting IGT wines into carton packages. This has been successful in the US, Germany, and Scandinavia, and also in Italy, where that segment grew by nine percent in 2016. 

Small but perfectly formed

A second, fast-growing area, is the 250ml market. This is doing well in Italy, Japan, UK, Russia, the Nordic countries, and elsewhere. The segment received a boost in 2016 when reclosable plastic caps were introduced. That year Tetra Pak sold 60 million 250ml containers in Italy alone. In the first five months of 2017, Caviro’s 250ml format grew 15% in Italy.

Portion packs are appealing to millennials, according to Giovannini, because they are more open to new possibilities. Also, wines in portion packs are ideal in warm weather, for picnics and outdoor events. They are attractive to singles in Europe for drinking, while Italians often use them for cooking. 

Yet a third area of market development is wine cocktails in cartons, for occasions such as aperitivi, fairs, concerts, and picnics, with a good potential for future growth.  It taps the millennial market, which is the new wine-drinking generation.


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