The not-so-glamorously named bag-in-box is a popular format for wine in many countries but in the UK it has often been regarded as a value option, with the wine inside considered to be of a lower quality than bottled alternatives.

It’s the perfect size for a small gathering and yet in the last decade it’s unlikely to have featured at many UK dinner parties. However, it seems times are changing.

The dramatic changes in shopper habits over lockdown has driven a renewed interest in bag-in-box wines, and as a consequence this trend has triggered NPD at the premium end.

Luckily consumers are becoming more open to alternative formats and we are now seeing a handful of attractive boxed wines appearing on shelves, with the promise of premium wines within.

Waitrose is one retailer that has been eyeing up the small but developing premium tier of bag-in-box wines, and we’ve seen it add a number of new products including a bag-in-box collaboration between When in Rome and Phillip Schofield, as well as a ‘wine in tube’ concept. When in Rome has also recently launched new additions to its portfolio. 

Drinks Retailing recently caught up with the duo behind Laylo, who also spotted the gap in the market for a new approach to the bag-in-box format for wine. Laylo has already attracted a lot of early interest for its premium wines in carefully designed boxes.

But probably the most significant piece of activity for this format in the UK was revealed this week, with wine giant Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) announcing it is introducing a bag-in-box option for its 19 Crimes brand.

The significance of this is multi-faceted. Firstly, the industry needs some big players to get behind this format, to help create a proper sector in stores – particularly supermarkets – and to draw more people into bag-in-box. And this can happen quickly, in fact Tesco and Morrisons have already listed the 19 Crimes box format so it’s in stores now.

Secondly, this is a sustainable option and while an increasing number of wine drinkers claim to be interested in environmentally-friendly packaging, to date they haven’t had a wide range to choose from and therefore may have been putting their expectations on other sectors within grocery to help tick the sustainability box.

The third key metric here is that 19 Crimes has a strong following of younger wine drinkers, and it has always worked hard to lead the way with technology – such as its Living Wine Labels app – and ways to tap into the millennial audience.

For these wine drinkers seeing a trusted brand moving into this area will hopefully provide reassurance that this format does not affect the taste of the wine inside, instead it offers another alternative format to suit certain occasions or for those wanting a sustainable option.

Drinks Retailing will be looking at this subject in more detail early next year in an Innovation in Packaging feature, so keep in touch if you want to find out more.