Small wines find their place in the British Columbia market as Canadians consider reducing their consumption

Small wines find their place in the British Columbia market as Canadians consider reducing their consumption

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VANCOUVER — Wine lovers have more and more options on the shelf to enjoy their favorite drink, as manufacturers in British Columbia offer smaller containers.

Several BC wineries have started offering their products in smaller, single-serve cans and bottles in recent years.

Small containers not only make wine more appealing to those who want to toss it in a backpack or sip on the golf course, but also offer wineries the opportunity to change their mindset as Canadians debate health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption.

Vancouver-based wine consultant Kurtis Kolt said he’s seen the segment of the wine industry that offers smaller bottles and cans “explode” in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 19 as people gather outdoors in parks and meet on beaches in search of something more. laptop to take home.

“They don’t affect the quality, you know? In fact, if someone just wants a drink or two, open a can and it’s absolutely fresh, guaranteed,” he said.

It’s also a benefit for people who want to drink less, he says.

“It’s much less of an obligation to open a can or a small bottle or a smaller jar than it is to open a bottle,” he said.

“Then you have to decide how fast you work or end up throwing something away if you don’t finish it.”

Last month, the Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction released a report funded by Health Canada stating that no amount of alcohol is safe and that those who drink up to two standard drinks a week pose a low health risk.

This is a significant change from the centre’s 2011 advice, which said 15 drinks a week for men and 10 drinks a week for women was low risk.

Health Canada has announced that it will review the report.

Charlie Baessler, managing partner of the Corcelettes Estate winery in the Southern Interior, said sparkling wine from his Healthy in a Can winery in a can hit the market in 2020 as a low-calorie option with levels of reduced alcohol and sugar.

“We did everything we could to appeal to a slightly younger, millennial market segment with a fun, bubbly, low-alcohol can design concept – all of those things that have been in the news lately” , did he declare.

Santé en Cannette is nine percent wine, and reducing alcohol is one way to cut calories, he said. The can also makes it attractive for events like picnics or golf, is recyclable, and makes it easy for restaurants to offer sparkling wine by the glass without opening an entire bottle.

At the same time, the low alcohol content makes it an option for people who might want a glass of wine without feeling the same high that comes from higher alcohol content, he said.

“So health is clearly an incentive, but I think what’s more important is enjoying a local BC product from a winery, dare I say it, with a mimosa at 11 a.m. and not ruin your day,” he said.

Baessler said that since launching the product, the winery has doubled production to around 30,000 cans per year, which it aims to achieve this year.

He said there is of course a market for the product, but he does not expect it to compete with higher alcohol content wine.

“So it’s not our holy grail.” It’s something we do for fun, and we will never compete with or shy away from our main line of mature, higher alcohol wines,” he said.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees of British Columbia, which represents bars, pubs and private liquor stores, said the industry has seen a shift in consumers who want options more practical.

“It’s not a massive change in consumer behavior, but it’s definitely a noticeable change, which is why you see big companies responding to it,” he said.

Guignard said the recent CCSA report is creating increased awareness and a desire to learn about responsible consumer choices, which is a good thing, but he adds that it’s important for people to consider the relative risk of their actions.

“If you eat fast food three meals a day, I don’t think having a beer or no beer is going to be the number one factor in your health,” he said.

“But from a consumer perspective, beverage companies naturally react to changing consumer preferences with different packaging or different products, just as you’ve seen a lot of low-alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages launched in the over the past five years.”

While not predicting the magnitude of market share growth, Guignard said carbonated and low-alcohol beverages will continue to account for a large share of the market.

“I don’t know if it has reached its maximum or if it will increase. I just guess it will be part of the market for now.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 5, 2023.

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press


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