Bulk wine is something the trade ignores at its peril, as the pressure for businesses to slash their carbon footprint and become more sustainable grows. To that end, bottling in destination, alternative packaging and low alcohol wines are all seeing increased demand each year, and bulk wine offers solutions for all of these. That’s why there’s never been a better time to attend the World Bulk Wine Exhibition which kicks off in Amsterdam next week. Helen Arnold reports.
The bulk wine sector, for long dismissed by the sniffier end of the global wine industry as vast lakes of low value, low quality wines being shipped around the world in huge tanks, is now seeing its reputation rehabilitated, forcing the naysayers to backtrack. Here’s what to expect at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition in Amsterdam next week.
With impeccable eco-credentials, bulk wine now ticks all the boxes for businesses looking to become more sustainable, enabling them to explore alternative packaging solutions, slash their carbon footprints and tap into consumer preferences for environmentally friendly practices. The increased switch, and interest in bulk wine from buyers at more premium ends of the market comes at at time when attitudes amongst both consumers and legislators towards packaging and waste is undergoing a seismic shift.
But despite the improved perception and changing fortunes of bulk wine, the past 18 months have proved particularly challenging for the sector, as international shipping has faced unprecedented difficulties and disruptions, further burdened by rocketing fuel and freight costs, resulting in hugely unreliable supply chain and huge congestion at some of the world’s busiest ports.
These factors have prompted many wine businesses to completely rethink their packaging and bottling strategies, with the bulk wine sector at the very heart of the issue. According to a recent Rabobank report the global wine industry is well positioned to seek out alternatives to the ubiquitous glass bottles, in a world where it is becoming increasingly unacceptable, and could even become illegal to use single use packaging in some markets. Germany, for example, is just one country which is tightening up its legislation on packaging, warning that “no one can shirk their responsibilities any more”.
But there is still much more to be done, with a shocking amount of glass still ending up in landfill –in the US that figure has been estimated to be as high as 75%.
Down to business
That’s the backdrop against which the 14th World Bulk Wine Exhibition will opens its doors next week (November 21 and 22) in Amsterdam. An opportunity, says chief executive, Otilia Romero de Condes, for “wineries to find the best commercial outlets for their products”.
The exhibition remains the world’s largest trade fair for the bulk wine sector and associated businesses and attracts buyers, producers, distributors and importers from all over the world. Visitors will be able to take a deep dive into the world of bulk wine and address some of the major challenges the sector faces as well take advantage of the opportunities it presents. It’s the biggest trading floor for bulk wine in the world and where contracts are made that dictate where and how bulk wine is being sold and distributed around the world.
“Business is always our greater highlight – the possibility of discovering 80% of the world’s harvest in just two days at a single location,” adds Romero de Condes “That includes being capable of accurately assessing market trends before anyone else and anticipating whatever comes next so our clients can be prepared.”
It’s vital, she says, that all wine businesses are far more flexible than they were in the past, so they can quickly adapt to whatever the market demands.
“De-alcoholised wines, alternative packaging, new consumers, and rather sophisticated oenological products are on the rise,” she says. “The endless possibilities offered to quality wines and private labels by bottling at destination, using alternative packaging such as taps, bag-in-box design, and many other issues have turned bulk wine into one of the industry’s most creative sectors.”
These will be some of the top themes explored at this year’s WBWE with a number of debates, talks and tastings to attend, including a full conference programme (see below) designed to help all visitors. Here is a round-up of the exhibition’s main events over the two days.
- Kicking off proceedings on the first day is a discussion on the so-called canned wine revolution where marketing expert Robert Williams will be discussing with other panellists how this alternative packaging has captured the wine world’s imagination in such a big way, and the future opportunities it offers.
- The question of where to bottle your wine is another hot topic being debated at WBWE, and will see Andrew Catchpole, editor of Harpers Wine & Spirit, discuss the issue with Muriel Chatel, the managing director of Sustainable Wine Solutions, along with Rafael del Rey, the general manager of the Spanish Observatory of Wine Markets.
- Next on the agenda will be the issue of whether an online market for quality bulk wine exists, which will be considered by Alessandra Costa, the founder of Sfusobuono.
- The development of co-operative wine tourism in France will be discussed by Laurent Cutzach, brand manager of Coop de France LR.
- Jean-Luc Favarel, the director of research and development at Le Materiel Pera will present a keynote lecture on vinifying in 2022 along with a tasting session.
- Later that day Alison Leavitt, the managing director of the Wine and Spirits Shippers Association will be discussing risk management and bulk shipping, taking a particularly close look at cargo insurance and flexibag options. Rounding off the first day of events will be marketing guru Paul Wagner who will guide attendees through the intricacies of the US market, with strategies of how to make a success of it.
- The next day kicks off with an introduction to dealcoholised wine led by Fernando Zamora, the president of the Commission of Oenology of the OIV, along with his colleague Jean Louise Escudier.
- This will be followed by a session looking into opportunities for bulk wine in the dealcoholised market place, with Irem Eren, director of sales and business development at BevZero, Gianmaria Zanella of Enologica Vason and Gerard Kenneth Higgins, senior wine specialist for Northern Europe at Pernod Ricard Winemakers. Delegates will then get the opportunity to taste various dealcoholised wines for themselves under the guidance of Escudier, former researcher at INRAE and former expert OIV.
- The burning question of what buyers actually want will be scrutinised by a select panel comprising Maruo Bricolo, a buyer and sales manager; Torbjorn Rolander, brand manager of Enjoy Wine & Spirits; Inge Straetmans, owner of Wines & Stories and Richard Siddle of The Buyer.
- James Bryson, corporate global account director of VinLog, the specialist beer, wine and spirits logistics division of Kuehne+Nagel will be next in the hot seat analysing the issue of global shipping and logistics.
- Jennifer Lincoln follows with an analysis on what makes wine fit for a can, and how both shelf life and quality can be preserved.
As well as this line up of talks, debates and tastings, the show will also feature winemakers from 22 wine producing countries exhibiting their products, with representatives from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, the UK, the US, and Uruguay. Visitors will be able to sample their wines in the silent tasting room, as well as those award-winning wines of the International Bulk Wine Competition.
Where: Amsterdam RAI Halls Two and Three, Europaplein 22 1078 GZ Amsterdam. www.rai.nl
Time: November 21 from 10am – 6pm
Time: November 22 from 10am – 5pm
Programme of Events
Monday November 21
11.00am: Canned Wine Revolution
12.20pm: To bottle or not to bottle?
13.30pm: Is there an online market for quality bulk wine?
14.20pm: The development of cooperative oenotourism in France
15.15pm: Vinifying in 2022; The absolute record year! Keynote lecture and tasting session
16.20pm: Risk management & Bulk Shipping; Understand cargo insurance and flexibag options
17.20pm: The US market: What it is and how to succeed
Monday November 22
10.30am: An introduction to dealcoholised wine and its determinants
11.00am: Opportunities for bulk wine in the dealcoholised wine market
12.00pm: Dealcohlised wine tasting session
13.00pm: What do buyers want?
14.00pm: Global shipping and logistics
14.45pm: Wine fit for a can – extending shelf life and preserving quality.
- If you would like to find our more and how to register and attend then go to WBWE website here.