Canned Wine Hits the Alcohol Buffers

A year ago, canned wine was predicted to take the world by storm. Now the world’s biggest US can manufacturer is closing some of its factories because of a fall in demand.

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Wine in cans? (Photo: Dasha Petrenko/
Wine in cans? (Photo: Dasha Petrenko/

In February 2021, after an 11% increase in sales over the previous year, John Hayes, CEO of Ball Corp, the world’s largest supplier of beverage cans warned wine producers and others considering moving into cans that his business was “capacity constrained right now” and unable to “supply those people that are looking to go into [them].”

This came an unwelcome news to wine professionals who had read the report by Brandessence Market Research predicting growth in the global canned wine market from $57.74 Million in 2017 to $155.29 Million in 2027.

In November 2021, as the popular US brand, Babe, prepared to launch pink BABE 100, low-calorie wine-based seltzer to join its Rose, Red and Grigio canned wines, other wineries wanting to follow its example were told by Ball Corp that “To more effectively serve our non-contracted customer base, effective January 1, 2022, where supply is available, we will require a minimum order of five truckloads per SKU for printed cans.”

In other words, the doors were closed to craft brewers and smaller wine producers with no existing contracts.

And Then the Tide Turned

A lot can happen in nine months, however, and as Supply Chain Dive reported, ‘flattening’ demand, including a 3% decrease in orders for alcohol cans, has driven Ball Corp to announce the permanent closure of two of its plants. The facilities – in Phoenix and St Paul Minnesota have a capacity of nearly 4bn units. Plans to build a new plant in Nevada have also been delayed, while capacity at an existing plant is to be optimised.

It is important for wine professionals to separate canned wine from other alcoholic beverages sold in this format. In 2020, US canned wine sales were estimated at $200m – out of a total alcohol market worth 250 billion dollars. Even when taken in the context of the $67bn US wine market, canned wine is tiny.

So, Ball Corp’s decision to shutter its plants had little to do with the readiness of wine drinkers to switch to cans; it was a reaction to a slowdown in the entire alcohol sector.

Canned wine has, indeed stalled in the USA after its early growth spurt, but that is not to say that it won’t pick up steam again with the help of some high volume brands like Bare, 19 Crimes and Barefoot. And the chances are that would-be canned wine producers may get a more friendly response than they did when they were at the back of an eager line..




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