French wine canner Star Beverages looks to make its own cans

Sales of canned wine are booming but France’s vineyards have been notably slow to capitalise on the trend.

Star Beverages is seeking to plug that gap. After six years of growth at its wine canning plant in the heart of the Bordeaux region, it’s considering stepping up production by establishing its own canmaking line.

Chief executive Cedric Segal was attending his first Cannex canmaking technology show in the US (1-3 May) to seek options for setting one up at its Castillon-la-Bataille home.

“We’ve not found it easy to buy the can sizes we need for wine and are investigating whether it will be better for us to make our own cans,” Segal said at the show in Denver, Colorado. “We’ve only been able to buy them from China so far. No one else has been able to supply to us. So we are exploring the possibility of making them ourselves.”

Star Beverages cans its wine in 187ml and 375ml formats. Segal said the biggest suppliers were happy to provide regular-sized cans but not the slim and sleek formats that his customers find “more elegant”.

The executive said he was impressed with the options for canmaking offered by the big-name exhibitors at Cannex. He said the mini-line concept cited by equipment companies, which enables smaller but still cost-effective production runs, would offer huge opportunities and a lower-cost solution than Star Beverages had anticipated.

While even a mini-line would produce more cans than Star Beverages requires for its own filling needs, Segal said the company was also considering acting as a contract filler. “It’s been a very, very productive week for me,” he said.

Star Beverages was founded in 2013 and overcame initial resistance from traditional French vineyards by focusing on the relatively new growth of the southern Languedoc region. After opening a filling line, the company now produces two million cans a year and has seen its order books grow as more producers latch onto the benefit of canning their wines.

“The Languedoc vineyards were happy because they were new and could get their wines out into the wider market,” said Segal. “Now the more traditional vineyards are joining in.”
Almost all of Star Beverages’ output is exported around the world. None of it is sold locally.

“France is very conservative, and the idea of wine in a can is not one that will catch on quickly,” he said. “France may be famous for its wine but it will be the last country to buy into canned wine.”