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Norwegian official urges ban on bag-in-box

Bag-in-box wine is under attack in Norway. A top official in the Christian Democrat party is calling for the product to be banned from shop shelves.

Bag-in-box accounts for an increasingly high percentage of Norway’s wine sales – now almost 40% – but Magne Aaroen, a Christian Democrat spokesman for liquor issues, thinks the state should decide whether it’s ‘even right to sell wine in three-litre boxes’.

Swedish research suggests bag-in-box wines boost consumption. In Sweden, bag-in-box accounts for 45% of wine sales, and the sector is showing year on year growth.

Information manager for the state liquor monopoly in Norway, Jan Egil Aase, said, ‘bag-in-box wine allows people to drink more regularly – during the week as well at weekends. But you can drink just one glass and the wine will keep, so people are drinking more often but in lower quantities. It fits well with the Norwegian way of life.’

Bag-in-box sales are also rising in the UK. Retail chain Tesco reports that bag-in-box sales are on the increase, with New World brands helping to boost the sector. ‘Australia is selling particularly well with the introduction of bigger brands,’ said Tesco customer manager Nicki Clowes.

Clowes believes that the high level of repeat purchase suggests bag-in-box may influence wine consumption. ‘It’s like any impulse product – if you’ve got more you’ll drink it,’ she said.

At Sainsbury’s, bag-in-box is growing strongly, with the sector showing ‘double digit’ growth. New World brands, particularly Australian, are leading the way. Wine buyer Rachel Griffiths said, ‘the growth is being fuelled by the increase in branded players such as Hardy’s Stamp, Banrock, Kumala and Lindemans, as well as some well-performing own-label lines.’

The Christian Democrats form part of Norway’s three-party coalition government. A Christian Democrat, Kjell Magne Bondevik, is prime minister. He has so far made no comment.

Written by Josie Butchart22 August 2002

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