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Pint-Sized Uncertainty: UK to Introduce Pint Wine Bottles Amid Skepticism Over Demand



Miniature wine bottles to hit store shelves starting September, amid skepticism about consumer interest

Officials have announced the move as a boost for Britain's flourishing wine sector, though critics have derided it as a so-called Brexit benefit, questioning the actual market desire.

Political correspondent @fayebrownSky

Thursday, May 2, 2024, 2:

Starting this fall, smaller wine bottles can be sold in the UK, thanks to new trade regulations following Brexit. However, there are concerns about whether consumers will actually buy them.

Commerce official Kevin Hollinrake announced that seven modifications to the standard sizes of pre-packaged wine will take effect on September 19.

In a statement to the House of Commons, he announced the date and described the initiative as a boost to the flourishing UK wine industry, offering chances for innovation and expanded options.

Patrick Grady of the SNP argued that the government must acknowledge the minimal, if any, demand or interest in what has been touted as a significant advantage of Brexit.

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The introduction of a new 568ml wine serving, which will complement the existing 200ml and 500ml options, was unveiled in December. Government officials celebrated this addition as a liberty gained through Brexit.

Before the UK became a member of the European Common Market, pint-sized bottles of Champagne were available for purchase in Britain, remaining on sale until 1973.

Their manufacturing was halted because they failed to adhere to EU standards for weights and measures.

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Mr. Hollinrake announced in the Commons, "The introduction of the 568ml pint size is among seven new pre-packaged wine size options slated to be implemented on September 19, 2024. This initiative aims to bolster the flourishing UK wine industry by fostering innovation and expanding consumer options."

Mr. Grady pointed out that the statement was "far from conclusive" compared to the government's December press release, which was titled: "For the first time ever, pints of wine available on British shelves."

Mr. Grady stated, "The phrasing doesn't suggest a future possibility or potential">king; it directly indicates that pints of wine are currently available for purchase in stores throughout the UK."

"Is the government willing to acknowledge that there appears to be minimal demand or enthusiasm for this highly-touted advantage of Brexit, and that it's quite conceivable that wine sold by the pint may never be available on UK shelves?"

Mr. Hollinrake responded, "It's always easy to tell the right honourable gentleman apart from a ray of sunshine, isn't it?"

He noted, "With the capabilities we've gained after Brexit, we have various alternatives at our disposal, such as the introduction of laws that standardize the volumes for both still and carbonated pre-packaged wines, allowing them to be marketed in 200ml and 500ml sizes, for which there is a notable demand."

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The modification is being implemented in response to worries about expensive new border inspections for food and animal products post-Brexit, which have raised alarms about potential price increases and shortages on store shelves.

Further Reading: Alerts about increased food costs linked to additional post-Brexit charges. Reverting to imperial measurements branded as 'total and absolute foolishness'.

Mr. Grady, representing Glasgow North as an MP, commented that the idealized vision of Brexit, where individuals would be leisurely">king large amounts of wine and channeling the legacy of Churchill, was never based in reality. Instead, he described the actual outcome as a "Brexit nightmare," characterized by stringent border controls, a decrease in available consumer options, and numerous business shutdowns.

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch stated that the decision will expand options for consumers, noting: "If he's not a fan, he's not obliged to purchase it."

"Complete foolishness"

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Businesses will not be legally required to offer the new sizes.

Upon the announcement, WineGB chief executive Nicola Bates expressed her approval, stating: "We embrace the opportunity to standardize the sizes of both still and sparkling wine bottles, and we are pleased to toast to the increased variety."

Yet, others in the sector expressed their skepticism.

David Gleave MW, the founder of Liberty Wines, expressed his skepticism about the market demand for pint-sized wine bottles by commenting on X, stating: "Complete foolishness. It's illogical from a standpoint of quality. Throughout my many years in the wine business, not once has someone requested a bottle of that size."

The adjustment follows the cancellation of a broader reform of the UK's measurement system, initially planned post-Brexit.

A survey conducted by the government last year revealed that 98.7% of respondents supported the continued use of metric units, leading Rishi Sunak to discard Boris Johnson's prominent Brexit policy, which would have permitted British stores to resume selling items in pounds and ounces.

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