Fifty years of innovation: bag in the box

Bag-in-box

2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the first bag-in-box wine packaging.1

When first introduced, consumers perceived boxed wine as a cheap, low-quality substitute to “real” bottled wine. Today, bag-in-box wine is widely seen as acceptable packaging for wines and continues to gain popularity thanks to its ease of use, lower cost and eco-friendly status.

Bag-in-boxes are ideal packages for table wines that don’t need to age. In a bag-in-box, wine stays fresh for up to six weeks as the remaining wine has no contact with the outside air, so there’s no hurry to drink it all in one sitting once it’s open. As an added benefit, consumers don’t need a corkscrew to open their boxed wine or worry about it breaking. The bag-in-box trend is even spreading to packaging for other liquids like coffee, apple juice, and water. According to Colin Alevras, sommelier at the high-end DBGB Kitchen and Bar in downtown Manhattan, “the wine bottle is late-18th century technology…it’s time to move on.”2

  • The First Design: After two years of work, Angrove developed what he called a “wine cask” – a modern update of the traditional European wine bladder, which was a leather pouch that collapsed as the wine was poured in order to keep out the air. Angrove filled polyethylene bags with wine, which he then put into boxes. Consumers would open the box, cut off a corner of the bag and pour the wine. To close the bag, users squeezed out the air, sealed it with a special pin and placed it back into its box and into the fridge. Although the design was inefficient and a bit messy, it revolutionized the way wine was sold and consumed. Angrove’s legacy lives on in his home country of Australia, where one third of all wine consumed in the country is poured from a box.3
  • Environmental Impact: As wine producers look to reduce their carbon footprint, some are beginning to substitute bottled wine with more eco-friendly and lighter bag-in-box wine. Over 90 percent of American wine production occurs on the West Coast, but the majority of consumers live east of the Mississippi River, driving up the environmental and financial costs of transportation. Switching to bag-in-box wine lessens this burden on wine producers considerably. The lightweight packaging of bag-in-box wine also reduces packaging waste compared to heavier wine bottles.4

1965 – The first version of bag-in-box wine was invented by Thomas Angrove, looking for a way to sell his cheaper red wines in bulk since wine in larger bottles would spoil quickly.

1967 – Penfold Wines and Charles Malpas patented a plastic, air-tight tap welded into a metalized plastic bag. This allowed consumers to keep the bag inside the box and tap the wine in the same way as a traditional wine cask, heralding the blueprint for today’s model.5

1979 – Franzia, one of the best known sellers of bag-in-box wine, implemented the design for its wine.6

1993 – 10.2 million cases of bag-in-box wine were sold worldwide.7

2003 – Black Box Wines based in California became the first U.S. winemaker to offer premium wines in a box8, overcoming the stereotype that boxed wine is poor quality.

2007 – Klabin, Brazil’s largest paper producer, unveiled its award-winning Lindoya Vida octagonal water package system. This design maintained water quality from filling to consumption.

2008 – Italy’s Agriculture Ministry announced that some wines which receive the government’s quality assurance label may now be sold in boxes, highlighting the quality and smaller carbon footprint of these wines compared to bottled wines.9

2011 – More products are introduced to bag-in-box concept - Diageo unveiled its easy to use, high quality cocktails in bag-in-box packaging.

2013 – Wandering Bear Coffee Co., a New York City based start-up, began to sell cold brew coffee that had been put in a box with a spigot, enabling consumers to access café-style cold brew on tap in its environmentally-friendly boxes.

2015 – Bag-in-box wines now form a significant portion of wine purchases worldwide. In the United States, one in five litres of wine sold is packaged in a box.10 In Sweden, two-thirds of all wine comes from a box.11


Footnotes

Happy birthday goon: cask wine turns 50”, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/02/happy-birthday-goon-cask-wine-turns-50

“Box Wines That Can Be a Hit”, Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/16/wine-packinging-boxes-lifestyle-wine-boxed-wine.html

“Happy birthday goon: cask wine turns 50”, The Guardian

“In the Bag: US Thirsty for Box Wine”, Wine-Searcher, http://www.wine-searcher.com/m/2015/04/in-the-bag-us-thirsty-for-box-wine

“Wine cask”, Powerhouse Museum, http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/australia_innovates/?behaviour=view_article&Section_id=1000&article_id=10021

“It May Seem Odd, but Is Wine In a Box Really Such a Bad Idea?” Wall Street Journal http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB927844229366371978

“Should We Bag the Bottle?” New York Times, http://articles.latimes.com/1994-03-10/food/fo-32130_1_winegroup-varietal-wines-new-world-wines

“Black Box Wines, http://www.blackboxwines.com/about-us/our-story.html#.Vg0CRfmqpBc

“Drink Outside the Box”, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/18/opinion/18colman.html?_r=0

10 “In the Bag: US Thirsty for Box Wine”, Wine-Searcher

11 “Happy birthday goon: cask wine turns 50”, The Guardian

12 “Drink Outside the Box”, New York Times