Beverages in Italy

Below is a summary of the characteristics and changes of the two areas “alcoholic beverages” and “non-alcoholic beverages”, from a packaging perspective.
Plinio Iascone
Packaging has proven to be a strategic factor for the beverage sector: in addition to protecting the product and making its handling possible, it also represents an important marketing tool.
The makeup of packaging for all beverages (alcoholic + non-alcoholic) consists in the following:
- glass bottles (returnable + disposable) 30.4%;
- PET bottles 57.9%;
- polylaminate cellulosic containers 4%;
- cans 2.7%;
- other (bag in box, draught, cheerpack, etc...) 5%.
Alcoholic beverages
In the area of alcoholic beverages, the glass bottle dominates all sectors, although it coexists with other packaging types, particularly polylaminate cellulosic containers and cans, which are characterized by promising market shares. Moreover, glass proves to be the only solution for spirits and vermouth.
For beer there are diverse solutions: in addition to the glass bottle, which also predominates this beverage type, there are aluminium cans and kegs for serving from the draught. In recent years, imported beers have also been distributed in 5 liter steel mini-kegs and 50 cl aluminium bottles. In the wine sector, the glass bottle and the polylaminate cellulosic container have shares of 72% and 10%, respectively: the former thanks to its place among high end wines, the second holds promising shares in cooking wine.
In recent years, the bag in box has progressively increased its presence in ranges with capacity of 5 to 15 liters.

Non-alcoholic beverages
In terms of packaging, the non-alcoholic beverage area is highly varied.
The PET bottle is prevalent in absolute terms and tends toward growth in the mineral water and carbonated drinks sectors.
The glass bottle continues to play an important role for mineral water, particularly in the “returnable” area, in which the use of bottles tailored to the necessities of the filling customers is spreading.
In the carbonated drinks sector, the most widely used packaging type after the PET bottle is the aluminium or tin plate can (the former predominates).
In fruit juices, the most used solution is the polylaminate cellulosic container, followed by the PET bottle, which shows tendential growth.
The PET bottle predominates in the area of non-carbonated drinks (tea, fruit-based mixes and energy drinks), although the aluminium can and plastic cups with aluminium easy peel top hold promising positions; followed by containers made from flexible polylaminate.    

Data and facts of the sector
According to Prometeia's projections, the growth prospects for production in 2011 in the beverage area as a whole (alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages) is for about 2%. Particularly for alcoholic beverages, this growth should be driven mainly by exports.
But let's look at the history of this market area.
After the shrinkage in production during the two-year period of 2008-2009, alcoholic beverages ended 2010 with a production (products put on the market packaged) of approximately 4%; the growth was driven mainly be foreign demand.
In particular, 2010 saw exports grow by 16.4% and substantial stability for domestic demand, which in any case remains 6% lower than the period before the crisis, 2007.
In 2010, domestic demand showed the following trends in terms of production in the various supply chains: wine +0.4%; beer -1%; spirits +1.9%; vermouth +5%.
The growth dynamic of exports can be broken down thusly: wine +9%; beer +78%; spirits +14%; vermouth +3%.
Non-alcoholic beverages closed 2010 with a total production of 16.8 billion liters, a decrease from 2009. Production remains inferior by about 2% to the period before the crisis, 2007.
The biggest sector in terms of shares is that of mineral water, which represents 71.4% of total production, followed by carbonated soft drinks with a share of 17.5%; next come fruit juices, non-carbonated beverages (tea, energy  and sports drinks), mixes and syrups.
Production continues to be conditioned essentially by domestic demand, which, overall, covers approximately 90% of production.
In quantitative terms, the only significant export volumes are those for mineral water.
The biggest drop in production concerns that of mineral water: -1.2% in 2010 and -3.2% compared with 2007, the last year of sustained growth.
The drops in mineral water were caused essentially by a negative growth trend in domestic consumption, but also by a more widespread use of water from reservoirs and the growth of water treatment devices at home and also in some restaurants.

Plinio Iascone
Istituto Italiano Imballaggio

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