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Friday read: What will 2023 mean for the wine trade?

Published:  06 January, 2023

Stuart Bond, director at UK wine distributor, Beyond Wines, dives into the top trends for 2023


We live in an age of uncertainty, where the consumer market moves quicker than ever before and trends can rise overnight and disappear just as quickly. As an industry that reveres time – the phrase ‘maturing like a fine wine’ certainly still holds weight – how can we respond as quickly to consumer demands as other drinks sectors? Without keeping pace, the wine industry could lose drinkers to other sectors and fail to engage the next generation of consumers. So, what will be the big bets for 2023?


Sustainable packaging formats

Sustainability will be restored to a key priority in 2023. Consumers are becoming more sustainably and ethically aware, and companies need to bear that in mind, not just with their products but also their packaging. The wine trade has talked about alternative packaging formats for years, and in 2023, it may be cost that forces wide change.

Glass pricing continues to rise unabated due to high energy costs: the trade has seen glass double in price within the last 12 months, incentivising the switch to alternative materials or lighter-weight bottles. Furthermore, the government continues to drive higher recycling charges for kerb side collections via Packaging Recycling Note prices (PRNs), which is pushing glass prices higher still for UK suppliers.

Additionally, the Scottish government will introduce its DRS, the deposit return scheme, from August 2023. This will impose an additional charge on glass bottles for wine suppliers, which could likely see this passed on to buyers and consumers.

Could we see more brands moving away from glass?

Brands like Laylo continue to push the bag-in-box agenda and are making headway, driving the trend for environmentally conscious drinking – as it should be. As well as there being a clear cost advantage now for single serve cans, [brands like] NICE are taking the canned industry by storm.

While cans are still yet to achieve the success wine producers expected, we’re expecting to see these brands in more outlets. Italian producers are looking to push products into plastic and we have seen the rise in popularity and demand via the launch of the Cramele Recas 75cl plastic format. They are lightweight and easily recyclable, and it won’t be long before this trend will pick up in the UK, particularly given that they are less environmentally detrimental than traditional glass – though consumers may require education about recycling to overcome perceptions around plastic waste.

Alternately, new formats such as Frugalpac’s paper bottle may also increase in demand, and it’s very interesting to see the Greenall’s Gin experimenting with it.

Growth of Romania

The growth of Romanian wine will continue to accelerate in 2023. UK distribution of wines such as Cramele Recas has increased hugely over the past two years. This is happening not only in volume, which will top 2.5 million bottles in 2023 (over +300% growth), but also in the wide variety of new outlets and the premiumisation of the wines sold. Most of the growth in the past 12 months has come from indigenous varietals (Feteasca) and premium blends.

The Orange wine has proven incredibly popular in the UK, in line with the growing market for orange wine. The recently launched Zana brand has also been taken into Wetherspoons, with listings in a major UK supermarket to follow in early 2023.

The rise of miniatures

It’s very clear that consumers, and the wine industry, are in love with miniatures. This year will see the rise of the 20cl; there are many reasons that they are successful, from being ‘cute’, to helping manage daily consumption and opportunities for gifting. There are also so many drinking occasions for miniature bottles: a present for a friend, a drink for one for now, in-flight drinks, as well as being perfect for picnics.

Another major factor in the continual growth of the miniature wine category is technological advancements over a relatively small period of time. Over the last 10 years, bottling lines at wineries have seen amazing improvements in their efficiency and flexibility. This has taken range choice from being only a handful of sources to many dozens of companies that can make small formats.

Digitally native brands making the cross over

The rise of Amazon marketplace and Prime has given everyone the ability to create and distribute their own brands. Distributors can develop their own branded stores, create engaging online content, including videos and product reviews to truly engage with the consumer. There are also benefits to Prime, which has seen returns for our premium wine brand, Liquid Diamond, rise by over +30%.

It is interesting to see the start of crossover of wine brands that have established themselves in the online space into mainstream listings. Liquid Diamond has moved from online to Asda and Pale Fox Prosecco has recently launched in Morrisons and John Lewis. 2023 will see more native brands making the same jounrey.

Amazon versus TikTok

Also recently launched is the TikTok-ification of Amazon’s ‘Inspire’. This scrollable feed showcases photos and videos of product recommendations, but will this add to what Tiktok can already do?

TikTok has taken over the social media game for all brands and marketers. The introduction of TikTok Shop, an innovative new ecommerce feature which facilitates merchants to showcase and sell products directly on TikTok through in-feed videos, has seen incredible movement for brands by increasing sales and traffic through millions of users. Effectively, this cuts out the middleman, meaning it is no longer necessary to use links to redirect users away from content to websites (which presented a further barrier to purchase and led to a drop in engagement) and lets brands sell directly on TikTok.

Undoubtedly the future for wine will reflect how shoppers learn about and buy other consumer goods. New digital channels and sales platforms dovetail with an established customer base of traditional retail and hospitality venues, with all outlets providing valuable sales avenues and brand building opportunities. Brand values, innovation and brand story will continue to play a major role in attracting new audiences, encouraging repeat purchase and fostering brand loyalty.

Just like the past decade, 2023 will undoubtedly serve up some unforeseen trends and challenges. But to stay relevant, wine brands need to take note of what audiences want and reach them through the messages that resonate and the channels they use.  

Beyond Wines is a UK based distributor founded by Alex Green and Matt Johnson; it is run by them as well as director, Stuart Bond. They are three members of the senior team behind i heart wines and Freixenet and have over 60 years combined experience in the wine trade. Beyond Wines’ portfolio includes pillar brand Liquid Diamond, created to make wine more accessible to the social media generation. The company also acts as the UK agent to several acclaimed wineries around the world.