The future of wine is here, and it comes in a can.
Canned wine sales have more than doubled in the past year, growing 125.2% in sales in the 52 weeks ending on June 18, according to new Nielsen data.
In that period, the canned wine industry drove $6.4 million in sales.
Wine in a can has been on the shelves for the last few years, clocking in as a $1.9-million industry in the year ending in June 2012.
However, most of the business prior to last year was primarily in sparkling wine, such as Sofia mini champagnes, with sparkling wine making up 90% of all canned wine sales in 2012.
But that’s all changed.
Canned table-wine sales increased tenfold, from $668,003 in the year ending in June 2015, to $6.7 million in the year ending in June 2016. Canned non-sparkling wine sales are now double that of canned sparkling wine.
“A great part is coming from just increased availability from a handful of brands,” Danelle Kosmal, Nielsen North American’s vice president, beverage alcohol, told Business Insider.
“It’s more visible, and it gives wine drinkers, especially millennials, something new to try.”
When Whole Foods named canned wine as a trend to watch out for in 2016, the retailer name dropped up-and-coming wine brands, including Infinite Monkey Theorem (which launched canned non-sparkling wine in 2011) and Presto Sparkling wine.
Huge wine brands are also getting in on the trend. Barefoot Wine & Bubbly launched a canned wine spritzer in April, geared towards customers drinking outdoors and drinking during the day.
One of the fastest-growing names in canned wine is Union Wine Company, makers of Underwood wine. Since 2014, the company has doubled sales of Underwood, which is offered both in cans and bottles.
The Oregon craft wine company debuted the cans as limited edition offerings in 2013, drawing from the rise of craft beer and a desire to make wine culture less “fussy.” Today, it sells the cans at major retailers like Trader Joe’s, as well as independent wine shops across the US.
“The craft beer movement took a lot from wine packaging as it came of age and continued to take it to whole new places,” the company writes on its website. “We feel like drinking wine doesn’t have to come with all of the pretension that it often does.”
Underwood’s approach highlights two of the trends that have helped canned wine catch on with extraordinary speed: the importance of convenience and millennials’ changing understanding of wine.
Convenience is an increasingly important part of the food industry, as millennial customers are ditching kitchen staples like cereal for being “too much work.”
Instead, snacks, meals, and drinks ideal for on-the-go consumption are taking over.
According to Nielsen, 73% of respondents say that packaging options that are easy to carry is important to them, with 49% saying that single-serve packaging is at least somewhat important. Cans fit both descriptions, easily trumping bottles when it comes to portability, and cutting the need for wine openers or glasses.
The portability trend goes hand-in-hand with millennials’ approach to wine.
While historically, wine has been seen as somewhere between mature and stuffy (think Budweiser’s ad showing wine drinkers as Super Bowl wet blankets to exuberant beer drinkers), younger drinkers are jumping on the wine bandwagon. Millennials consumed 159.6 million cases of wine in 2015, 42% of all wine drunk in the US last year.
With the rise of millennial wine drinkers comes a growing demand for wines that are more innovative and less expensive.
wine slushies, wine ice cream — millennials are craving wine, and they want it presented in a different manner than prior generations.
Alternative packaging, such as boxed wine and alcohol sold in pouches intended to be frozen, is on the rise in the last three to five years, according to Kosmal, a trend that canned wine is continuing.
“The perception of wine is always highest in the glass bottle,” says Kosmal. “When we ask millennials age 21 to 34 about their perception of quality of wine, with the alternative packaging … there were more millennials saying that there could be excellent or good quality wine in cans.”
Additionally, canned wine makers are able to position the new packaging as a fresh take on other millennial-friendly trends. Kosmall says different brands have marketed canned wine as more environmentally-friendly, easier to sample in different varieties, and better for drinking outside.
Canned wine is still a minuscule part of the wine industry — just 0.1%, according to Nielsen. However, Kosmal believes that the rise of the can isn’t just a summer trend, but instead part of a shift in how Americans approach wine.
“I think it’s going to be longer term,” says Kosmal. “It, in a sense, can open up new drinking occassions and new opportunities for people to drink wine, in places they haven’t in the past. And I don’t think that will be a short-term trend.”
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