You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Bagging a bargain: UK wine fans think outside the bottle in lockdown

The Guardian logo The Guardian 23/08/2020 Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent
Photograph: Blue Pebble/Alamy © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Blue Pebble/Alamy

From so-called “bagnums” to “cardbordeaux”, bag-in-box wines have enjoyed a sales surge in the UK during lockdown as Britons opted for better value for money and fewer trips to the supermarket.

The Co-op chain reported an unprecedented 300% sales uplift across its range as consumers have shopped less but drank more at home during the closure of pubs and restaurants, with the trend set to continue into the autumn. Larger pack sizes – typically three litres, or four 75cl bottles – represent better value.

Amid the easing of lockdown the boom in UK camping and picnicking is now helping to drive sales, as consumers have recognised the portability, convenience and eco-credentials of the new-style products. The packaging means little oxygen enters even once it has been opened, so wine stays fresher for longer – up to six weeks – than in a bottle.

Related: 'There’s no way we’d go back': will Covid-19 end free wine tastings forever?

Video: This is when the big supermarkets reduce food prices (Birmingham Mail)


The Co-op has bolstered its 12 bag-in-box range (which includes Fairtrade red and white) by an additional six wines in order to meet demand, and is currently trialling a premium dry rosé.Sarah Benson, wine buyer at Co-op, said people were buying into boxed wine because they could get more in a single purchase and it allowed customers to share the wine among a wider group than a smaller bottle.

Marks & Spencer has adapted the original Australian-style three-litre format – better suited to cavernous fridges in hot countries – to 1.5 litre slimline “pouches” that fit neatly inside UK machines or coolers – and sales have doubled. Sales of the pouches – nicknamed “bagnums” by customers – were up 40% during lockdown.

M&S winemaker Belinda Kleinig said: “Pouches have definitely gone upmarket: as packaging technology has improved, so too has wine quality, and customers are now happy to bring out their pouches at picnics and parties.”

Sainsbury’s reported a 41% rise in sales across its bag-in-box wine since UK lockdown – compared with the same time last year – and is now expanding the range, with a slew of premium “Taste the Difference” products in boxes due in January.

“Lockdown gave bag-in-box wine a real opportunity to shine,” said Sainsbury’s wine buyer Hugh Browne. “Shoppers could get the same great taste in a larger container that kept their wine fresh for six weeks from opening, with fewer trips to the shops.”

The tipple is attracting a more diverse customer base as more brands enter the market and quality has increased, said Tesco. The company also highlighted the appeal of its eco-credentials – it’s more environmentally friendly than transporting glass bottles. However, while the cardboard “cartons” are widely recyclable, the inner bags with attached pouring spout are generally not and have to be removed and disposed of separately.

The packaging means little oxygen enters the pouch even once it has been opened. © Photograph: Blue Pebble/Alamy The packaging means little oxygen enters the pouch even once it has been opened.

More from The Guardian

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon