Free Flow Wines is the industry’s only reusable packaging company with national distribution. We’re challenging the wine and hospitality industry to think outside the bottle with our reusable steel kegs.
Free Flow partners with hundreds of wineries, importers and distributors to help offer their wines in reusable stainless-steel kegs to thousands of On-Premise accounts across the United States. Most of our winery clients ship their finished wine in bulk to either our California or New Jersey fulfillment facilities where we clean and fill thousands of kegs monthly.
Free Flow works with distributors and third party freight companies to manage outbound and reverse logistics, so wineries can stay focused on managing sales of their kegs. Our business development division also assists with opening new opportunities for keg sales. Shared success in this area has led to more than 8,000 On-Premise accounts currently pouring wine on tap from our reusable kegs across the US. Nearly 1% of the wine consumed On-Premise in the US is done so from our kegs, but we see the potential for it to be at least 10% in the near future.
SGD (SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL)
Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Responsible Consumption and Production
Partnerships for the Goals
Glass bottles are well documented as the number one source of carbon emissions in the wine industry and their recycling rates in the United States are estimated to only be about 30% by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Packaging wine in reusable steel kegs allows for at least a 76% reduction in carbon emissions compared with the production, transportation, and disposal of the same amount of wine in single-use glass bottles. Based on the low recycling rates of glass bottles, we also estimate to have saved more than 50 million pounds of trash from the landfill since being established in 2009. Serving wine on tap in our reusable steel kegs also significantly improves profitability, service speed and sustainability of On-Premise operators creating a true win-win solution for all parties involved.
Free Flow works with winery partners to schedule shipment of their wines in bulk to our closest kegging facility. We’re also able to arrange shipments of clean kegs directly to domestic producers who prefer to execute on site, but the overwhelming majority of our partners elect to send us their bulk for our full-service kegging package.
When the wine arrives in bulk to our facility, we perform basic laboratory analysis to ensure it meets the winemakers criteria. We send out samples for full laboratory analysis at a third party and make minor adjustments to the wine if deemed necessary.
Once the desired wine quality specifications are confirmed. We proceed to filling sanitized kegs. This process is similar to pumping wine from one tank to another in a winery. Our production team upholds the highest quality standards. Please feel free to reach out with any questions about our process or schedule a tour to see a kegging run in-person.
Once the kegs are filled, the wine is transported to a third-party bonded warehouse. The distributors of our winery partners then place purchase orders for full kegs and schedule pickup. There is a $30 keg deposit which the distributor assumes responsibility for when picking up the kegs. When the inventory arrives in the distributor’s warehouse, they’re able to process and deliver orders for On-Premise accounts with the keg deposit usually being passed on to them until the empty keg is returned.
In most states, distributors pick up empty kegs at On-Premise accounts when delivering full kegs, and bring these back to their warehouse. Free Flow arranges pickup from distributor warehouses when they have at least 20 empty kegs (full pallet layer), or preferably 40 kegs (double stacked pallet), to help control costs and minimize environmental footprint of reverse logistics.
Free Flow picks up kegs directly from On-Premise accounts for certain distributors in several states in exchange for a small fee. This helps facilitate facilitate faster keg returns and accommodate distributor limitations or preferences.
Whether the kegs are picked up directly from On-Premise accounts or from distributor warehouses, Free Flow and distributor partners take full responsibility for all logistics once the wine is in keg, leaving winery partners to o focus on sales. Once the kegs are brought back to one of our kegging facilities, they’re sanitized and refilled, creating a truly closed loop process.
Since being established in 2009, we estimate to have saved nearly 50 million pounds of waste from landfills and to have eliminated an estimated 53 million pounds of carbon emissions by providing a reusable alternative to glass bottles.
Single-use bottles are unnecessary for by-the-glass wines served On-Premise. Reusable steel kegs offer significant cost and waste savings which benefit wineries, On-Premise operators and the planet. It is important the industry look for ways to reduce our dependence on single-use glass bottles in order to reduce our carbon footprint and meet the challenges of climate change.
We look forward to continuing to grow our network of winery partners and help more On-Premise operators discover the significant benefits of serving wine on tap.
POTENTIAL FOR REPLICATION
Yes: high environmental impact and medium-low effort required for implementing this solution.
The primary challenges are controlling costs of reverse logistics and overcoming outdated notions of wine on tap being inferior to bottled wine. Currently, wine on tap represents less than 1% of the wine volume served On-Premise. In contrast, approximately 50% of the beer served On-Premise is done via reusable kegs. Once the category secures 1.5% of the wine volume served On-Premise, economies of scale will help moderate and stabilize reverse logistics costs. Fortunately,
the category is growing at more than 20% per year.
As for outdated notions of inferior quality, the selection of wines available now ranges from $5 to $50 per bottle equivalent wholesale. Some of the most highly acclaimed brands are now offering their wines in keg (please see list on website). On-Premise chains as casual as Shake Shack & Mendocino Farms to as polished as the Ritz Carlton and Hillstone Restaurants have embraced wine on tap.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Barclay (email@example.com) for more info.