Lanchester Wines and Hillebrand talk bulk logistics 

We speak quite often about how shipping in a flexitank can prove advantageous in comparison to shipping in bottles; the most obvious benefit being you can double the amount of volume shipped:



 With that comes a significant win on the environmental front, with CO2 savings of up to 40%. We’ve worked it out as around 2kg of CO2 per km travelled. But, here’s what else you need to know!

We spoke to Lesley Cook, Director of Purchasing at Lanchester Wines about how shipping wine in bulk with Hillebrand, and bottling it in the UK with its sister company Greencroft Bottling, has elevated their business in the drinks industry.

So what should the world know about Lanchester Wines?
We’re an independent, family-owned supplier of quality wines and spirits to the trade. Established in 1980, we’re headquartered in County Durham but operate nationally across every element of UK wine import and export. We have over 3,000 product lines comprising bulk, boutique bulk and bottled wines, which provide our customers with wines to meet every requirement, from premium ranges to award-winning house wines and everything in between.

We are a sustainable wine company and strongly believe it’s the duty of every business to preserve our planet, which is why we’ve invested over £8.5million in developing clean, renewable energy and heat generation for our offices and warehouses to greatly reduce our business’ carbon footprint. Today our business is powered almost completely by renewable wind and solar energy because we believe being carbon neutral is just the beginning.

You’ve worked with Hillebrand since 2005, why?
Originally, our relationship with Hillebrand was for shipping bottled goods out of Chile (around 2005), which we still do. And, in 2012 we expanded our working relationship with Hillebrand into also importing bulk wine, specifically deep sea (new world wines). Bulk allows us to develop a more personal service for our customers – flexibility of wine, packaging and flexibility of format which in turn creates a more tailored product. Bulk provides us with freedom to explore options such as personalisation, own label and range development.

Because the transportation of bulk wine is so important to our business, we need a partner business who is proactive, dependable and provides a quality service, all of which we find with Hillebrand. The Hillebrand team has strong relationships with shipping lines and is proactive to customer needs which in our view makes them a dependable logistics partner.  They’ve an unrivalled knowledge of the way in which beverages need to be transported too. The research they do on how to preserve the quality of products whilst in storage and in transit informs the development of their flexitanks, which is why we trust them with our wines.

How are you managing bulk wine containers once they arrive in the UK?
Where possible Hillebrand moves our containers to our Greencroft bottling facility using feeder services. They take our wines to the Port of Tyne in Newcastle or Teesport near Middlesbrough, rather than bringing them through Felixstowe and Tilbury to minimise road travel time, and therefore reduce CO2 per journey:

  • Saves 45% in carbon emissions using north-eastern ports compared to bringing products by rail from the south
  • Saves 68% in carbon emissions compared to bringing products by road from Felixstowe

Currently, around three-quarters of all the wine bottled at our Greencroft facility comes through north-eastern ports in this way.

What happens to the flexitanks once you’ve discharged the wine?
In short, we recycle them. We proud to say that by working with Hillebrand, 100% of the flexitanks we use are mechanically recycled.  Hillebrand also collects the bulkheads that hold the flexitank in place in the container and away from the door. They repair and refurbish them, so they can be reused in future bulk shipments. Both companies are committed towards sustainable operations and actively pursuing a circular economy for equipment used.

So what other savings and benefits can be made by bottling in the UK?
Firstly, have you compared the cost of a glass bottle to that of a lightweight glass bottle? Same durability but not as expensive. Also, and arguably more importantly, lightweight glass uses less raw material in its manufacture and so it ticks the environmental benefits box too. For example. We switched 98% of one of our customer’s wine portfolios to light weight bottles and we found:

  • A reduction of 13,577 tons of glass, which meant;
  • A reduction of 14,127 tons of CO2 emission


For more information on the sustainability of our flexitanks, take a look at this study by Carbon Footprint 

How can we help your business grow?