Bulk wine is a steadily growing part of the New World wine export market and will likely continue in the future, according to a report recently issued by Rabobank, a Netherlands-based agricultural business bank. For the first decade of the 21st Century, the report states, bulk wine exports have gone from comprising one-fifth of all wine exports to almost one half, while bottled wines have declined from more than 75 percent to less than 60 percent.

The reasons for this rise in bulk wine exports are many and varied. One major reason is what Rabobank calls “the democratization of wine,” increasing consumer demand combined with improved production, shipping and marketing methods. “New World wine companies in particular have brought keenly priced, increasingly well-made and well-marketed wine products into the reach of more consumers around the world,” the report notes.

While the benefits to consumers of better-made, better-marketed, more affordable wines are obvious, the benefits to bulk wine producers, retailers and even the environment are equally impressive. Improvements in the containers and transportation of wine have made bulk wine shipping “a safe and reliable alternative to shipping masses of glasses across the world,” according to the report, not to mention one that allows producers to “save on transportation costs, import duties, glass and bottling costs, working capital and even foreign exchange exposure.”

With the glass bottle accounting for an estimated 40 percent of a filled bottle’s total weight, bulk wine shipments (in containers like the 25,000-liter “flexitank” bag) require less energy and fewer resources than traditional case-bottle shipments and are an economically sensible way to “go green,” while helping reduce a producer’s carbon footprint.

Given bulk wine shipping’s potential savings in the costs of production, transportation, fees and taxes, and energy, both retailers chasing value-conscious consumers and producers selling their own branded wine products should find that “selling more wine at more affordable prices” is an eminently smart business strategy.