The Co-op pledges to ramp up focus on different wine formats

The Co-op has pledged to experiment more with different wine formats in future after expanding its range of cans, 50cl bottles and minibottles.

Senior wine buyer Gyles Walker told DRN: “It’s an area we can do more with, but we are seeing some of our suppliers now come to us to offer those exclusives and those first-to-market opportunities.

“We will definitely be looking at different formats in wine for the future, and indeed across BWS as a whole.

“Our beer team is well ahead of the curve on that, but then they have had that opportunity in craft beer, which has driven that interest and real excitement with the customer. And in the wine team we are sharing that best practice from beer.

“Different formats is not an age thing for wine, it is about producing wine in different sized bottles and cans so we have the perfect products for dinner party, al fresco and other occasions. There are numerous opportunities for wine and drinks to get that format right to suit the occasion, and it is amazing to see that development in the trade over the past three or four years.”

The Co-op added a number of 50cl variants earlier this year and it has more planned for the summer. Last year it added wines to its 37.5cl collection, and it also has wine in cans and larger packs, such as bag-in-box

Walker said: “It’s too early to say how well the 50cl wines are doing, but we know there are definitely customers who want to buy that size to share.

“We know the pressures on inflation and we understand that some great wines are going outside some of our customers’ budgets, so 50cl is a great opportunity for us to keep customers interested in these great-quality wines.

“We know also there is a great understanding from customers in how much alcohol they are consuming and 50cl is therefore a good sharing-size wine for a couple.

“It allows us to be responsible and to get that across to the consumer. It also helps us link wine and good together, and to talk about those mid-week shopping occasions.”

One of the 50cl newcomers for the Co-op this summer is a Château du Rouët Provence Rosé at £8.50.Walker said: “We know that style of rosé commands a higher price from the quality of the production and we understand the affordability, so Ben Cahill on our wine team sourced this 50cl version.”

The Co-op is adding a number of Provence-style rosés for the summer, including a “world first” with its listing of Studio by Miraval, described by Simon Cairns, category trading manager for BWS, as “a real coup for us at Co-op and it could only happen when the supplier believes in what we are doing here”.

The retailer is also introducing a range of three alcohol-free wines in June.

Walker said: “No-alcohol is definitely a growth area. Hats off to the beer guys – they have seen that customer insight and the brands are obviously leading that in a very strong way. “It is amazing how winemakers have really managed to understand the technology to produce quality in low and no-alcohol. And I think that is an area that is just going to expand and carry on developing.”

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