Ten years ago it would have been rather unusual: having a glass of Prosecco at a beach bar in The Netherlands or a Cava in a London pub… Today, sparkling wines are booming all over Europe. With new audiences growing fast and consumers demanding different formats, O-I – the global leader in glass packaging – combines its long-standing expertise and the latest technical innovations to support Europe’s sparkling wine producers.
2010 was a great year for sparkling wines. Champagne recovered from 2009 (a crisis year) and realised a 9% rise in sales. The three biggest European export markets were the United Kingdom (+ 16.3%), Germany (+ 21.6%) and Belgium (+ 7%).
An even stronger performance was shown by the Spanish sparkling wine Cava, with an 11.5% growth in production and 13.7% rise in exports. The main EU export markets were Germany (+ 17.6%), Belgium (+ 34.7%), France (+ 15.1%) and The Netherlands (+ 9.6%). The only slight fall (of 2%) was in the UK – the number 2 export destination for Cava.
Prosecco also saw double digit export growth in 2010, with further growth anticipated by 2012. The success of the Italian sparkling wine in the UK led the British Office of National Statistics to add Prosecco to the ‘shopping basket’, which is used to measure inflation. Other sparkling wines, such as the German Sekt, saw more moderate growth.
“With plants historically located in the heart of these sparkling wine-producing regions, O-I is in a privileged position to witness and share in their success,” says Benoît Villaret, European Marketing Manager Wine for O-I. “While Champagne remains strong, the other sparkling wine regions have managed to enlarge their market. With a favourable price/quality ratio, they were able to encourage consumers to enjoy bubbles not only at special occasions but as an everyday pleasure.”
O-I offers different types of standard glass bottles, each respecting the heritage and origins of the specific sparkling wines. In 2010 1,6 billion bottles were produced for the sparkling wine industry in Europe, representing a rise of 3% compared to 2009.
Within the “bubbles boom”, other trends have also emerged.
By the end of this year, all major Champagne brands will have introduced a lightweight bottle, according to the Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne (CVIC). As part of its standard range, O-I offers Champagne producers a Lean+GreenTM bottle, which respects the traditional features of the champagne bottle while offering a weight reduction of 65g.
The lightweight bottle uses less energy than conventional bottles in the manufacturing process, which adds to the inherent environmental advantages of glass: made from abundantly-available natural raw materials, glass is one of the only materials that can be recycled an infinite number of times without loss of quality.
Although green has been the dominant colour for sparkling wine bottles for many decades, O-I recently decided to add two bottles in Black Glass by O-I to its standard range: a 75cl lightweight Champenoise bottle and a 75cl Cremant bottle.
The decision was sparked by consumers, who find black glass “sophisticated and classy, giving sparkling wine a luxurious image”. This was revealed in a consumer study, conducted at the end of last year by the Ipsos Institute in France and the UK, on behalf of O-I. English consumers showed great interest in the concept of Black Glass by O-I for a wide range of packaging purposes, while the French showed a preference for using it more specifically to celebrate a special date or event.
While black glass has been available in the past, O-I has pioneered a revolutionary new technology, enabling the production of a new type of black glass with maximum flexibility and at an affordable price. Black Glass by O-I was launched in 2010.
One of the big trends in sparkling wine has been the single-serve bottle for the onand off-trade market. In 2010, leading German Sekt producer Rotkäppchen-Mumm launched a redesigned 0.2l Piccolo bottle for its sparkling wine. The bottle features a contemporary look, attractive to a younger target audience, with less pronounced shoulders and a larger label. Rotkäppchen-Mumm brings around 20 million “Piccolo” bottles a year onto the German retail market.
While O-I offers its customers a vast range of standard bottles, some producers prefer to highlight the qualities of their product by using their own private shape. Prosecco producer Ruggeri recently created a buzz with a patented bottle for 3 varieties of its Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG: the Quartese, Giall’Oro and Santo Stefano. The bottle design concept has two distinct features. The bottom half of the bottle widens gradually from the base upwards, like a vase, providing a solid yet elegant shape to showcase the main focal point: the bold yet graceful shoulders. The tapered neck provides a visual balance with the body of the bottle.