“Shipping in bottles can add 25¢ per bottle to costs.”
According to an article in Businessweek “Most Australian Wine Exports Ship in Giant Plastic Bladders,” to reduce costs many Australian wineries ship wine overseas using large — very large — plastic bags. Upon arrival in London they are then bottled. David Fickling says in the piece, “We’re talking 24,000-liter plastic bags, each able to carry the equivalent of 32,000 bottles of vino.”
24,000-liter plastic bags!
Ensuring it doesn’t get punctured is, I suspect, a rather high priority — lest the crew of the ship be confronted with an ominous, Kubrick-sized sea of red juice.
Cost is the primary concern of course, but the soft packaging also provides for flexibility that bottles or stiff cartons could not afford. A logistics manager says, “While a 20-foot container accommodates about 9,900 liters of bottled wine, it can carry a 24,000-liter bladder at only a little more cost.”
Labels include Rosemount, Lindeman’s and Wolf Blass.
It’s not just Australia that ships in “bulk.”
Chile ships about a third of its exports using the bladder method. The U.S. and South Africa about half.
As you might imagine, the technique is not likely to be used for premium wine anytime soon.
It’s a good read for those interested in the wine industry and some of the tricks of the trade.