The Forecast for Canned Wine in the Retail Market
The category is poised for growth as hard seltzer and RTD cocktails consumers shop cross-category
The popularity of canned beverages has exploded during the past year, sending sales of hard seltzer and ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails soaring. The format has become so ubiquitous that producers across the country are facing an aluminum can shortage that may extend well into 2023. Though canned wines are not seeing the same demand as canned beer and spirits categories, the category is experiencing growth that suggests a bright future.
Between 2017 and 2021, volume sales for canned wine in Nielsen-tracked channels increased more than 3,800 percent. In the 52-week period ending March 25, 2017, total off-premise dollar sales reached $5.9 million, while in the 52 weeks ending March 20, 2021, dollar sales reached $253 million — up 62 percent over the previous year — and volume sales increased 67 percent, reaching the equivalent of nearly 30 million bottles.
Though canned products account for just one percent of the wine category’s overall sales on Drizly, they’re poised to make big gains in the coming years.
“In 2016 and 2017, there were maybe 40 brands with some wine in cans. Now it’s about 230,” says Danny Brager, a beverage alcohol industry consultant and the former senior vice president for Nielsen’s beverage alcohol practice. “That shows consumers are buying.”
Canned wine wasn’t always such a hot seller. U.S. wineries first began using the packaging in the 1930s, but it took a convergence of factors over the past 10 years to ignite the category. For one, Brager notes, canned wine technology has improved, boosting wine stability and shelf life. And because cans are light and portable, and come in convenient, single-serve sizes, they’re easy to take along to the park or the beach.
In response to consumers’ affinity for hard seltzer and canned RTDs, producers are launching new, higher-quality canned wines with broader appeal. “Canned wine spritzers were previously associated with sugary and lower-quality wine,” says Liz Paquette, Drizly’s head of consumer insights. “We are beginning to see this perception shift with new brands innovating and entering the market, including wine-based cocktails like Ohza’s canned mimosas.”
On Drizly, bottled wine currently dominates the wine category’s overall share at 92 percent, followed by boxed wine at 7 percent. However, share for canned wines is growing. Over the past 12 months, share increased from 0.7 percent to 1 percent. “The explosive growth of canned drinks in other categories suggests that the same growth may be on the horizon for canned wine,” says Paquette.
As the category continues its expansion, Drizly data for the top-selling canned wine subcategories, brands, and SKUs can help retailers create smart stocking strategies for 2021.
Pretty in Pink and Bubbles
Red and white wines hold the majority share of Drizly’s overall wine sales, but in the canned wine realm, rosé wines hold the greatest share at nearly 32 percent. Sparkling wine is a close second at 30 percent share, followed by white wine (15 percent), wine spritzers (10 percent), and red wine (6 percent).
Rosé canned wine is particularly popular during the spring and summer months, and is often associated with outdoor sipping. “This is similar to what we see with other canned drinks,” notes Paquette. One reason consumers gravitate toward sparkling wine in cans, she adds, is “their resemblance to drinks like hard seltzer and RTDs, which are often carbonated.”
When choosing varietal wines in cans, consumers typically opt for crisp whites and lighter-style reds. The category’s top sellers, in order of the greatest sales share, include Pinot Grigio (35 percent), Pinot Noir (17 percent), Sauvignon Blanc (15 percent), Grenache/Garnacha/Cannonau (13 percent), and Muscat/Moscato/Moscatel (7.7 percent).
Top-Selling Brands and SKUs
Drizly’s best-selling canned wine SKUs over the past year reflect these canned wine category trends, with 6 of the top 10 SKUs falling in the rosé category, and 6 falling in the sparkling wine category; some of the top-selling SKUs fall within both.
Drizly’s Best-Selling Canned Wine SKUs, Last 12 Months
- BABE Rosé With Bubbles
- Underwood Rosé Bubbles
- Underwood Sparkling Wine
- House Wine Rosé Bubbles
- Underwood Pinot Noir
- Underwood Rosé
- BABE Grigio with Bubbles
- 14 Hands Unicorn Rosé Bubbles
- Dark Horse Rosé
- Barefoot Hard Seltzer Variety Pack
BABE Rosé With Bubbles held the No. 1 spot for the second year running, reflecting continued consumer interest in canned rosé sparkling wines. BABE Grigio and Barefoot Hard Seltzer — a wine-based hard seltzer — broke into the top 10 this year, while Underwood, House Wine, and 14 Hands Rosé Bubbles made gains within the top 10 ranking.
What’s Next for Canned Wine
Among the past year’s fastest-growing canned wine brands on Drizly, four stood out as ones to watch: Bev, Flora Wines, Bollicini, and Kim Crawford.
“We have seen a combination of new, pure-play canned wine brands and traditional wine brands moving into cans,” Paquette says. “Both are having success.” For example, brands like BABE and Bev specialize in canned wines, while Barefoot and Kim Crawford are best known for their traditional wine offerings.
This is similar to the hard seltzer category, which features a mix of dedicated seltzer brands such as White Claw, and seltzers from traditional beer brands like Bud Light and Corona. “In the coming years, we expect to see innovation in canned wine from both directions,” Paquette says.
As canned wine trends continue to follow their counterparts in beer and spirits, and the lines between the categories continue to blur, retailers can optimize canned wine sales by positioning them as a direct alternative to their canned counterparts.
“In the spring and summer months, as nice weather and widespread vaccinations become a reality, we anticipate more outdoor and on-the-go sipping,” Paquette says. “Canned wine is poised for growth as a portable, single-serve offering.”