Bronco Wine Co., Ceres, Calif., a major supplier of varietal wines, is establishing a strong position in the single serve, 187ml wine category with the adoption of lightweight polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles from Amcor Rigid Plastics, the world’s leading producer of rigid plastic packaging. Bronco, the fourth largest winery in the U.S., recently made a major packaging switch from glass to further penetrate the retail and airline markets and capitalize on PET’s glass-like clarity, portability, sustainability advantages and reduced cost.
Bronco has witnessed strong sales growth in the retail and airline business thanks to the consumer acceptance of these convenient, aluminum screw cap bottles. Wine packaged in PET bottles can be sold at parks, concerts and other outdoor venues while airlines are also drawn to the lightweight and sustainability benefits, according to Fred Franzia, president of Bronco Wine Co. “We’ve added customers in the on-sale (restaurants, bars) and off-sale (retail) segments plus increased sales with our airline customers,” explained Franzia. He said the increased sales in the 187ml package have come with the Crane Lake, Red Truck, Coastal Ridge, Hacienda, Harlow Ridge, and ForestVille brands.
The switch to PET also delivered key sustainability benefits in keeping with Bronco’s commitment to environmentally responsible practices in its wine making operations. “We’re able to offer the consumer a convenient, lightweight container that is 100% recyclable,” explained Franzia. “And just as important, the reduced cost is allowing us to increase our customer base.” PET containers are one-sixth the weight of glass bottles, unbreakable, less wasteful and recyclable.
Bronco’s success is a reflection of the strong overall growth in the single serve 187ml wine segment in the U.S. Bronco has invested in new filling equipment for 187ml to further penetrate this high-growth market. The company, a leading co-packer for several national wineries, is also considering contract filling for others who may want to expand into this growing package size.
In the airline market, Bronco’s move to PET has enabled the company to secure business with Delta, United and Southwest. Cost-conscious airlines have led the change in the replacement of glass in 187ml wine bottles and see PET as a lightweight, high quality option that mimics glass while also providing reduced fuel consumption and a cost savings. Consumers have embraced PET because of its great look and feel and convenience, according to Bronco. The aluminum screw cap bottle’s portability provides an entrée into venues that do not allow glass because of the potential for breakage. In addition, consumers are impressed with the glass-like appearance and the high quality of the packaging. A unique barrier coating technology developed by Germany’s KHS Plasmax GmbH affords the 187ml PET container an extended shelf life. KHS Plasmax® Silicon Oxide (SiOx) barrier coating is a glass-like material which seals the container from the inside to protect the contents from oxidation. Plasmax is an FDA-compliant enhanced passive barrier for oxygen sensitive products. This ultrathin (less than 100nm) material is transparent and resists cracking, abrasion and delamination. Moreover, it doesn’t degrade over time nor limit the storage time for empty bottles. The barrier coating is easily removed during the recycling process and does not contaminate the recycling system.
Amcor expects continued strong growth for barrier PET containers in not only 187ml bottles but a range of package sizes for wine, according to Kerry Drewry, sales manager for Amcor Rigid Plastics. An aluminum closure from Amcor Flexible Capsules makes the entire wine package supplied by Amcor.