Bad blood seems to be developing between Britain's wine importers and the local glass manufacturers.
According to this week's Harper's the UK's first forum on lightweight wine bottles, organised by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), deteriorated into something of a slanging match. Wine importers accused the glass people of "arrogance" in not being willing to supply the lightweight bottles that are now so much in demand from both producers and retailers since the wine trade has become more aware of the need to limit its carbon footprint.
"They say this is what we have and so this is what you will buy", according to David Cox, head of Brown Forman – Europe (and twin brother of Michael, head of Wines of Chile in the UK). He threatened to turn to alternative packaging such as plastic 'PET' bottles and cardboard Tetrapak if the glass manufacturers would not co-operate with the demand for lighter glass bottles.
Sales and marketing director of Quinn Glass, Peter Fitzgerald, meanwhile argued that they were selling lightweight glass bottles to northern France because there wasn't sufficient demand in the UK. Some disconnect here?
This is all a great shame. We all know about the problems that stemmed from a less than cordial relationship between the cork manufactures and the wine trade….
WRAP recently published a report comparing the environmental impact of bottling Australian wine in both PET and glass bottles in the UK which can be found at www.wrap.org.uk