Joiy Wines cracks open US expansion

26 Oct 2021 11:59 AM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

Canned wine exporter Joiy Wines has launched a multimillion-dollar expansion into North America, after turning the head of supermarket chain Whole Foods.

The Wairarapa winemaker said it was approached by the US$16bn retail chain after a win in a major canned wine competition.

It was now launching into the retailer and expected to double its current production of 700,000 cans for five export markets this year. Long-term plans would see it increase production volumes to more than seven million units per annum.

Joiy Wines co-founder Cath Hopkin said the company’s focus from the outset has been taking premium wines into small format packaging.

“Originally we could see that the spirit and beer categories were thriving in small format and yet wine was nowhere to be found. If we ever made a 375ml bottle it was a lower volume run for a hotel group or airline. We then saw an opportunity to specialise in this category and moved our entire product range into cans.

“The domestic and export demand is now there, and we are seeing small format wines resonate strongly with millennials as well as our core target demographic aged 35+ who are choosing these products for a range of convenience and health reasons – such as portion control, lower alcohol, sugar and calories.”

The international market for canned wines was growing at a rate of 13% per annum and was projected to reach over $807m by 2028. This compares with the bottled wine category, which remained stagnant with a growth rate of 4%.

Joiy Wines exported to five markets and has found success in government-run monopoly markets like Canada and more recently Norway, where it could compete on a level playing field against much larger suppliers.

Hopkin said that in addition to providing a vessel that connects with consumers from a design perspective, development of canned wines has allowed the company to address a number of shortcomings of the bottled wine format – including the challenges around heavier shipping weight and fragility of glass.

“The technology we use has now advanced to the point that the lining of can protects the premium wine better than glass, preventing light strike and allowing us to produce a product that is shelf stable for four years – a significant competitive advantage for us on the international market.”

Co-founder and winemaker Chris Archer said that when the duo first brought forward the idea of producing canned wine, they were initially met with a lot of resistance from the local wine industry.

“When we first set out to develop a market for canned wine it was at a time when the industry had not been telling a compelling story which was able to connect with the next generation of consumers and was losing share to competing products like RTDs,” he said.

“Today there is much greater recognition that the level of innovation we are introducing is the way forward for New Zealand wine and are now spending a lot of time on the speaking circuit as a case study.”

Archer said the successful entry into the US market would put pressure on an already limited local grape supply, with projections suggesting their production volumes could increase tenfold overnight.

Joiy Wines latest innovation was a range of wine seltzers, as well as its Mimosa canned wine cocktail, which has already secured a listing with the world’s largest liquor buyer LCBO in Canada.