Wine Talk

Snooth User: Philip James

Wine Packaging

Posted by Philip James, May 26, 2008.

I know we've talked about this a couple of times before, but i couldnt track down the thread (we'll be adding search into the forums pretty soon, it just grew faster than we expected).

Boisset Family Estates, the 3rd largest winery in France is really pushing all boundries with some of their products. This month's Fast Company magazine has a great 2 page spread about how they designed the packaging for their French Rabbit line:

Basically they used octagonal tetra paks, which have the following stats when compared against glass bottles:

- Glass bottles add 40% to the weight of the wine, Tetra pak's add 4%
- Tetra Paks can be shipped flat and take up 1/28 of the space on the way to the bottling plant, even filled they are most space efficient, at 1/3 of the space (think how honey combs mesh together efficiently)
- The carbon footprint is 10x smaller than that of glass

The wine also comes in a 1 liter size (33% more for us to enjoy!), or in picnic style single serving cartons (not as sure about that).

Boisset also did the Yellow Jersey wines which came in a tin, as reported by Tyler Coleman of Dr Vino:

OK, this seems to work well for a budget brand, but its great to see a company this large adopt it, and i'm interested to see who follows. Maybe Yellow Tail should do so, they have such high materials and shipping costs as Australia is so far away from everywhere else, they might stand to gain the most.


Reply by Philip James, May 26, 2008.

PS. I'd have linked the article, but Fast Company lamely had no mention of it on their website, despite the fact that its from their current edition.

Reply by oceank8, May 26, 2008.

Sounds cool, but I love the bottles. It will be hard to get people to switch from what they are accustomed to, especially with how much money they have invested into storage, etc. I would buy them however, just for the simple fact that they are so unique. I agree that Yellow Tail would be a good brand to adopt this since they are an "everyday wine."

Reply by Squirt, May 28, 2008.

I'm just now warming up to screw top bottles, I can't deal with all this change at once. Seriously, I'm so accustomed to bottles and like Ocean stated my storage is designed for bottles. I also think that the everyday marketers will be hesitant to change because of the infra-structure they already have in place is designed for bottles for their storage. It wouldn't be the first time a manufacturer changed the product and the public regretted it, who can forget "Old Coke and New Coke" what a faupau that was.

Reply by Chris Carpita, May 28, 2008.

I don't see any potential for a massive pr failure from packaging, and it's not really the same thing as changing the taste of a product. I think given advantage on carbon footprints, which many consumers are concerned with, they will not shun the packaging redesign entirely. That said, the bottles on the page look like they should contain orange juice. It would be a hard thing for anyone to get used to.

Reply by Stephen, May 28, 2008.

I would point out that a) tetra paks are often not recyclable...even if you dump them in the bin doesn't mean the waste management co actually recycles them, b) glass, if done more efficiently, could be far better, I'm talking about bottling closer to the point of sale, standardizing bottles so they can be universally used and reused (they reuse a lot of glass beer and soda bottles in Mexico and Latin America, and even recycling glass has a much higher (I believe) return than recycling other products...

Reply by oceank8, May 29, 2008.

So true, I never thought about it before but in Mexico we have to take our beer bottles back to the store and then we can get a discount on our next purchase. Why wouldn't that work with wine bottles?

Reply by Mark Angelillo, May 29, 2008.

I think we'll see a lot more recycling in the coming years and furthermore (they don't have us to this in Brooklyn), we should probably be separating the colors of glass. You get a less reusable final product if you try to mix clear, brown, and green glass bottles when recycling. It would probably be best for glass to always be clear but that's not going to happen (not to mention it renders the product more susceptible to the dreaded Light Strike!).

The US has a long way to go. Some countries already recycle more than 90% of their glass. (Cheers, Denmark!)

Reply by Chris Carpita, May 29, 2008.

It would work perfectly, if we had the infrastructure to support it. Recycling on a massive scale takes some kind of specialized machinery to deal with certain bottle sizes. It's pretty much nailed for beer bottles in the states, so you can recycle any of those pretty much anywhere. Wine bottles are not as common, and so the ability to recycle them differs by province.

Reply by Philip James, May 29, 2008.

@Ccarpita - not all states offer the 5 cents return value for bottles that NY does. So when there arent teams of people picking through the trash and collecting the bottles i wonder how many get recycled. I know there are some modern recycling plants that do a fantastic job of sorting out the various types of refuse, but still a hell of a lot just gets tossed in a landfill somewhere.

@Stephen - Yopu think glass could ever have a smaller carbon footprint than tetrapacks? I guess if the bottles were recycled indefinitely.

I read recently that while an electric hybrid car makes you feel all good and green, they have a much higher carbon footprint that any other car (by virtue of the battery which is very hard and expensive to make) and even a hummer has to drive close to 100,000 miles for the carbon footprint to equalize.

I dont own a car, but if, instead of a hummer, i drive an old for fiesta (or like my old Honda Civic) then the hybrid will never be as efficient, carbon wise, as simply using an old car longer.

[side note: i know that carbon is not the only environmental concern, but when tallied in this absolute way, it paints an interesting picture]

Reply by Philip James, May 29, 2008.
For a great Wired magazine article about the carbon problem

Reply by Chris Carpita, May 29, 2008.

Bottles still are heavy and have to be shipped in order to be recycled. The only way to eliminate carbon footprint is to grow the grapes and make your own wine. Gotta check out that article!

Reply by Sung, May 29, 2008.

Well, if we can figure out the recycling and the romance of the glass bottles, the tetra bottles can be pretty cool of urban dwellers with not a lot of space, since they can stack easier and make use of space more efficiently.

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