Monday, 23 March 2015

The Bag-in-Box Debate

From an interesting article by Juan P Simó in yesterday's Diario de Jerez

The bag-in-box (BIB) is causing headaches for Fedejerez who defend glass as the only option.

How strange. Señor Fino's little sister Manzanilla is getting above herself. First, many years ago now, she outsold the all-powerful Fino San Patricio at the most profitable of all the Spanish ferias, the Feria de Abril in Sevilla. Now she is causing a stir over packaging and what is in that packaging. One is accustomed to opening the little tap on a BIB and seeing Manzanilla flowing out, but two days ago we came across a BIB whose contents were not Manzanilla, but mosto.

Manzanilla BIBs (foto: Diario de Jerez)

It doesn't stop there. Use of the new packaging also upsets the Consejo's annual sales figures by artificially reducing Denominación de Origen (DO) sales. In 2001 some enthusiastic Manzanilleros (Manzanilla producers) became interested in the new packaging. They de-classified part of their production which was therefore not DO Manzanilla and sold the wine in this package which is not permitted by the Consejo. Over the years, this initiative matured, like the wine and has now been very successful, really taking off in 2012 with a jump of some 500% to a million litres of de-classified "Manzanilla Type" wine. And all this because of the BIB, which other DO's had adopted without blinking for the increased sales against bottles. The Manzanilleros' gamble had been successful as the BIB is ideal for ferias and very popular in Scandinavia.

So what are the advantages of the BIB? They are many: they are more economical, more hygenic, conserve the wine better, keep costs down, are easier for distribution, are lighter and have a lower impact on the environment. Wine producers in Montilla and Huelva have adopted the BIB and now represent a potential threat to our little blonde Manzanilla. All this comes from a report to the Consejo itself which extolled the virtues of the BIB, but proposed its acceptance be restricted to the catering trade. A plenary meeting of the Consejo however knocked it back. Nowadays, BIBs of 3litres, 5 litres or more are to be found on sale in bodega shops, wine shops, cooperatives and even petrol stations at very accessible prices. They cannot, however use the word "Manzanilla" on the label even though it might be, and suggestive terms are used instead, such as "Hidalgo Fina", "Fina en Rama" or "Finísima".

Sanlucar Coop BIB (foto:
Fedejerez president, Evaristo Babé, is sick of repeating the mantra that "Manzanilla is only Manzanilla if it is in a bottle which bears the seal of the Consejo. Anything else could deceive the consumer." And although BIB is in widespread demand, Babé maintains that its use poses a threat to the image of Manzanilla and represents the spear that could kill all the good promotional work. He has therefore asked for a change of mentality and for the abandonment of anything which lowers the image of Sherry, and to instead opt for quality: the glass bottle. Fedejerez sees the BIB as a factor which could unbalance the market, which is currently in good shape, with concurrent risks to employment and feels that all Sherry should be sold in bottle rather than bulk.

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