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Bronco Wines flying high in PET

Single-serve, PET format for Bronco Wine brands proves a convenient option for airlines, which appreciate the convenience and light weight of the 187-mL bottle.
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Bronco Wine Co., Ceres, CA, a supplier of varietal wines, is establishing a strong position in the single-serve, 187-mL wine category with the adoption of lightweight PET bottles from Amcor Rigid Plastics. Bronco, the fourth largest winery in the U.S., recently made a switch from glass to PET to further penetrate the retail and airline markets and capitalize on PET’s glass-like clarity, portability, sustainability advantages.

Bronco has witnessed strong sales growth in the retail and airline business thanks to the consumer acceptance of these convenient bottles, which also feature resealability through aluminum screw-cap closures from Amcor Flexible Capsules. Wine packaged in PET bottles can be sold at parks, concerts, and other outdoor venues, while airlines are also drawn to the lightweight and sustainability benefits, according to Fred Franzia, president of Bronco Wine Co. “We’ve added customers in the on-sale (restaurants, bars) and off-sale (retail) segments, plus increased sales with our airline customers,” he explains. Franzia, adding that the increased sales in the 187-mL package have come with the Crane Lake, Red Truck, Coastal Ridge, Hacienda, Harlow Ridge, and ForestVille brands.

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The switch to PET also delivered key sustainability benefits in keeping with Bronco’s commitment to environmentally responsible practices in its wine-making operations. “We’re able to offer the consumer a convenient, lightweight container that is 100-percent recyclable,” says Franzia. “And just as important, the reduced cost is allowing us to increase our customer base.” PET containers are one-sixth the weight of glass bottles, and are unbreakable, less wasteful, and recyclable, according to Amcor.

Bronco’s success is said to be a reflection of the strong overall growth in the single-serve 187-mL wine segment in the U.S. Bronco has invested in new filling equipment for 187-mL bottles to further penetrate this high-growth market. The company, a leading co-packer for several national wineries, is also considering contract filling for others who may want to expand into this growing package size.

In the airline market, Bronco’s move to PET has enabled the company to secure business with Delta, United, and Southwest. Cost-conscious airlines have led the change in the replacement of glass in 187-mL wine bottles and see PET as a lightweight, high-quality option that mimics glass while also providing reduced fuel consumption and a cost savings.

Consumers have embraced PET because of its great look and feel and convenience, according to Bronco. The aluminum screw-cap bottle’s portability provides an entrée into venues that do not allow glass because of the potential for breakage. In addition, consumers are impressed with the glass-like appearance and the high quality of the packaging.

A barrier coating technology developed by Germany’s KHS Plasmax GmbH affords the 187-mL PET container an extended shelf life. KHS Plasmax® Silicon Oxide (SiOx) barrier coating is a glass-like material that seals the container from the inside to protect the contents from oxidation. Plasmax is an FDA-compliant enhanced passive barrier for oxygen-sensitive products. This ultra-thin (less than 100-nm) material is transparent and resists cracking, abrasion, and delamination. Moreover, it doesn’t degrade over time nor does it limit the storage time for empty bottles. The barrier coating is easily removed during the recycling process and does not contaminate the recycling system.

Amcor expects continued strong growth for barrier PET containers in not only 187-mL bottles but also a range of package sizes for wine, according to Kerry Drewry, sales manager for Amcor Rigid Plastics.

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