NZ's canned wine exports set for multimillion-dollar growth as Wairarapa winemakers expand into the US

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Joiy Wines are exporting their canned wines to the US after being approached by Wholefoods.


Joiy Wines are exporting their canned wines to the US after being approached by Wholefoods.

One of New Zealand’s largest exporters of canned wine has launched a multimillion-dollar expansion into North America, as its share of the global small format wine market grows.

Joiy Wines, the first local winemaker to export canned wine, now produces over 700,000 cans for five markets around the world each year.

The company is on track to double its annual sales volume this year and is now the top-selling canned wine in Canada, the world’s largest liquor buyer and one of nine countries where the Government operates the retail sale of alcohol as a monopoly.

The move by Joiy Wines into the US market follows the brand being approached by $16 billion retail chain Wholefoods, after a win in a major canned wine competition.

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Cath Hopkin, Joiy Wines co-founder, said the wine industry can be threatening to many and has struggled to attract an emerging millennial customer base.

Their focus has been taking premium wines into small format packaging.

“Originally we could see that the spirit and beer categories were thriving in small format and yet wine was nowhere to be found,” she said.

Joiy Wines co-founders Chris Archer and Cath Hopkin.


Joiy Wines co-founders Chris Archer and Cath Hopkin.

“We then saw an opportunity to specialise in this category and moved our entire product range into cans.”

The international market for canned wines is growing at a rate of 13 per cent per annum and is projected to reach over $807m by 2028. In contrast, the bottled wine category remains stagnant with a growth rate of 4 per cent.

But the wine industry has struggled to attract millennials and small format options are increasingly being seen as a mechanism to deliver a more portable, environmentally friendly and portion-controlled product for this health-conscious segment.

“The domestic and export demand is now there, and we are seeing small format wines resonate strongly with millennials as well as our core target demographic aged 35+ who are choosing these products for a range of convenience and health reasons – such as portion control, lower alcohol, sugar and calories,” Hopkin said.

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Toast Martinborough is an annual celebration of the region and its wines (video published in June 2020).

“In addition to providing a vessel that connects with consumers from a design perspective, development of canned wines has allowed us to address a number of shortcomings of the bottled wine format – including the challenges around heavier shipping weight and fragility of glass.

“The technology we use has now advanced to the point that the lining of the can protects the premium wine better than glass, preventing light strike and allowing us to produce a product that is shelf stable for four years – a significant competitive advantage for us on the international market.

Chris Archer, Joiy Wines winemaker and co-founder, said when they first brought forward the idea of producing canned wine, they were initially met with a lot of resistance from the local wine industry.

“Today there is much greater recognition that the level of innovation we are introducing is the way forward for New Zealand wine.”

Archer said the successful entry into the US market will put pressure on an already limited local grape supply, with projections suggesting their production volumes could increase tenfold overnight.

The pair’s latest innovation is a range of wine seltzers a well as their Mimosa canned wine cocktail already securing a listing with the world’s largest liquor buyer LCBO in Canada.

Hopkin says their original sparkling white and Roses have been enjoying a number one position there for the last four years.