NZ’s Canned Wine Exports Set For Multimillion-Dollar Growth

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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.

The move by the Wairarapa winemaker into the
lucrative US market, follows an approach from $16bn retail
chain Wholefoods after a win in a major canned wine
competition.

The international market for canned wines
is growing at a rate of 13% 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%.

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.

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.

A successful entry into
the US will represent Joiy’s largest export opportunity to
date and could see production volumes increase to over seven
million units per annum – providing a significant boost for
local growers, particularly in Marlborough.

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

She says their focus from
the outset 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. If we ever made a 375ml bottle
it was a lower volume run for a hotel group or airline. We
then saw an opportunity to specialise in this category and
moved our entire product range into cans.

“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.

“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 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” she says.

Chris Archer,
Joiy Wines winemaker and co-founder, says 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.

He says in contrast to the industry-led
transition from corks to caps, the growth of canned wines
has been consumer driven and has evolved over a longer time
frame.

“When we first set out to develop a market
for canned wine it was at a time when the industry had not
been telling a compelling story which was able to connect
with the next generation of consumers and was losing share
to competing products like RTDs.

“The first years of
development we were met with a lot of ‘raised eyebrows’
from the industry. Many were surprised at what we were doing
as it went against their traditional pathway, making it a
very lonely time for us.

“Today there is much
greater recognition that the level of innovation we are
introducing is the way forward for New Zealand wine and are
now spending a lot of time on the speaking circuit as a case
study.

“We are also getting a lot of export success
in Government run monopoly markets like Canada and more
recently Norway where we can compete on a level playing
field against much larger suppliers,” he
says.

Archer says 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.

“I started out
making wine at the age of 17 and I’m proud of how far we
have come. Joiy was all about making wine accessible to all
people for all occasions, not restricting it to
‘on-the-table’ and the sometimes-daunting prospect of
opening a full standard bottle,” he says.

Hopkin
says the brand was born out of a desire to demystify the
wine industry and its ‘wine speak’ by showing it to be
fun.

“We know that for those that do not grow up
with wine, the beverage can be off-putting – the words are
foreign and there is a lot of pomp and ceremony which is
great in one way but can also be really quite negative in
others.

“It’s been a “roller-coaster” ride and
we’re a team of two and while it can present some
challenges it means we can move quickly and respond to
consumer trends and desires,” she says.

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, since the wine in can category
launched.

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