Waitrose reports "phenomenal" sales of refillable beer as part of Unpacked trial

Waitrose sold ten weeks’ worth of beer in just four days in its Oxford Botley Road store via its “Unpacked” scheme, where beer (and wine) was made available for consumers to buy using refillable containers.

The retailer said the Unpacked trial has been a success overall, and it believes the idea of buying beer and wine in a refillable container – a concept which originated in America, where ‘growlers’ are popular – could soon become the norm in the UK.

Waitrose & Partners Food and Drink Report 2019 to 2020, said: “Sustainability, personalisation and value for money are the main reasons for this rise in refillables.

“The Unpacked pilot at the Waitrose & Partners Oxford Botley Road store had phenomenal results. Four types of wine and four draught beers (from Toast, which brews using unwanted bread – fitting perfectly with the green aspect of this trend) were available. Ten weeks’ worth of beer sold out in just four days.”

Rob Collins, managing director, Waitrose, said: “We have had an overwhelming response to our ‘Unpacked’ trial, where we have removed packaging from 200 products in our Oxford shop, so we are extending elements of that initiative to three more shops.”

The report also highlighted a number of trends it identified throughout 2019 in drinks, one of which is the switch from bottles to the more environmentally-friendly can format.

It said: “Alcohol packaged in cans used to be frowned upon. But thanks to the craft beer boom, sales of canned lager now outstrip bottles. Ready-to-drink cocktails in a tin are also flying off the shelves and Waitrose is selling English wine in a can too. Aluminium is proving popular as it is easily recyclable and cans already contain a high proportion of recycled content, making them a green choice.”

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