The Benefits of Bulk


Lanchester Wines

We speak to Lanchester Wines’ Tom van der Neut, who tells us what operators can do to minimise their wine supply chain’s carbon output.

 As the wine industry spans (literally) the globe, carbon reduction has to be apportioned to the different elements of the wine process. You can firstly start by looking at the winery; how it has adapted to its environment and social surroundings, and used the resources available from water conservation to soil management, vineyard grazing through to community projects.

Next, is the transportation, whether it be deep sea or pan-Europe. Each company has its own insetting programme as to which fuel is used, which routes are taken, and which type of vessel is used. 

Serious consideration should be given to the benefits of bulk wine. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, bulk wine is defined as wine which is shipped in containers called ISO tanks or Flexitanks – essentially a 24,000 litre bag in box. The cost savings, both monetary and sustainably, are undeniable. For example, a Flexitank, containing 24,000 litres will fit in a 20ft container, while the same volume in bottle would require two 40ft containers. 

  • 1x 20ft container with 13,200 75cl bottles = 9,900 litres of wine 
  • 1x 20ft container with 1 flexitank = 24,000 litres of wine 

With this comes a significant win on the environmental front, with CO2 savings of up to 40%. We’ve worked it out as around 2kg of CO2 per km travelled.

Around 50% of all wine sold in the UK is shipped in bulk and bottled here at specialist wine bottling facilities, such as our sister business Greencroft Bottling, which itself is predominantly powered by renewable wind and solar energy. The further away the wine is produced, the higher the likelihood it’s been bottled in the UK – around 85% of all Australian wine imports are now bulk rather than bottled. 

There are also benefits for quality. Depending on where the wine is shipped from, the journey to the UK could be as long as nine weeks, during which the climatic conditions can be extreme, causing the temperature of the wine to vary from 7 ºC (45 ºF) to 32 ºC (90 ºF). If the wine is transported in a 24,000 litre bladder, the variation of the wine’s temp is vastly reduced compared to in a bottle.

There is no lack of premium Boutique Bulk™ in the market and, indeed, there are dedicated premium bulk producers coming on stream all the time. In the trade, I think it’s fair to say bulk is pigeonholed in the eyes of some, so we need to do a better job of convincing them a UK-packed wine really can be as authentic and exciting as anything bottled at source at a value price point.

Lanchester Wines has created a Sustainable Bulk Wine Partner Portfolio which can be downloaded from its website: 

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