21/11/2006 - 21:00

Palandri ahead on the pack

21/11/2006 - 21:00

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Just when you had become used to screw caps on wine bottles, Margaret River winemaker Palandri this week unveiled the latest innovation in wine packaging.

Just when you had become used to screw caps on wine bottles, Margaret River winemaker Palandri this week unveiled the latest innovation in wine packaging.

Palandri has invested 18 months of research and development into the ‘cheer pack’ – an innovative form of packaging made from a fully recyclable combination of plastic and aluminium foil.

No more glass bottles. Palandri believes it is the future of wine packaging in Australia and overseas.

“We have been on the lookout for alternative wine packaging for sometime now,” Palandri chief operations officer Gordon Grant told Gusto.

“We have had the view that the traditional form of packaging needs to be changed and we think this product is the next major innovation in wine.”

While no-one has used the ‘cheer pack’ for wine before, its use in the international beverages market is well documented. Overseas, particularly in the Japanese and UK markets, the product has been used to package everything from juice, sports drinks, diet jelly, honey, apple sauce, purees and soups, and even hospital IVs.

The product seems well suited to wine. The outer layer is a clear, thin plastic film that can, and in Palandri’s case, has been printed with artwork. The second layer is aluminium foil, and the final third layer is a thicker plastic for added strength.

Mr Grant believes the product’s lightweight design and smaller dimensions are what will chiefly attract Australian consumers to it. It is roughly half the weight of a wine bottle and can be folded down flat – two features said to have interested airline carriers conscious of space constraints.

The cheer pack is not designed to completely replace wine bottles per se, but rather targets the early release and ready-to-drink wines that make up the bulk of the market.

The product has no cellaring potential – rather it is an extension of the screw-cap principle – and is a product that seeks to maintain the wine’s original integrity for the short term.

“We have been evaluating the wine packaged in the cheer pack during a nine-month trial process and we’ve seen no deterioration in quality,” Mr Grant says. “The pack gives wine a shelf life of 12 to 24 months, making it perfectly suited for early drinking wines.”

The first time Australians will see the product is likely to be during a Queensland trial early next year, but Palandri is first going to ship 3,500 cases of its Baldivis Estate range to Canada, making it the first export shipment of an eco-friendly wine package ever.

Due to the relative eccentricities of the Canadian wine industry, a call was made by the Ontario Liquor Control Board to investigate avenues for alternative wine packaging.

Seizing on this opportunity, Palandri hopes to use the Canadian market as a base in its plan to launch the ‘cheer pack’ worldwide.

The company estimates that cost savings made during bottling process could boost its annual export earnings by $32 million within two years.

While citing the product as a major advancement in the sometimes ultra-traditional world of wine, Mr Grant believes consumers will naturally take to it as they did screw cap closures.

“Wine consumers are now far more relaxed about their wine choices when wine became part of people’s everyday lives. This product is just an extension of that,” he says.

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