OCTOBER / NOVEMBER 2014

Reduce & Reuse With Style

   

By Anna Wolfe
The latest generation of reusable drinkware is clearly winning over fans

No longer are consumers faced with the dilemma of paper vs. cheap colored plastic. They can now choose acrylic, acrylic beverageware that is.

Sales of reusable and stylish and eco-friendly acrylic beverageware have catapulted. Acrylic wine glass sales more than doubled from the previous year, the strongest performance of any beverageware segment, according to The NPD Group Inc. Sales of other acrylic glass styles – Old Fashion, goblets and champagne glasses – also increased during the 12-month period ending April 2014, reports the Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm.

There are many reasons for acrylic beverageware's appeal, but primarily its reusable and unbreakable status helps make acrylic the material of choice for outdoor living. Debra Mednick, executive director and home industry analyst for NPD, says acrylic offers "the best of both worlds." And recent advances in manufacturing have helped create acrylic glasses that are doppelgängers for glass and far more stylish than paper or plastic alternatives.

Plus, acrylic is free of Bisphenol A (BPA), a compound found in certain plastics and resins that is believed to have negative health effects. Its BPA-free status "does help clinch the whole thing," says Mednick. "It gives people peace of mind."

Top Acrylic Beverageware Types
May 2013-April 2014 Dollar Share
Beverageware Type Dollar Share of Acrylic Market
Hiball/Tumbler71%
Serveware12%
Wine Glasses7%
Old Fashion3%
Source: The NPD Group, Inc./Retail Tracking Service, May 2013 - April 2014
NPD's Retail Tracking Service for beverageware includes point-of-sale data from participating retailers.

At Le Roux Kitchen's four stores, Owner Michael Levandowski has seen an uptick in demand for acrylic beverageware, especially for outdoor entertaining and boating. The composite bamboo dinnerware, which is reusable, is another customer favorite at Le Roux's Martha's Vineyard location, where there's a large interest in outdoor eating. Customers prefer the bamboo composite as an alternative to melamine or disposable plates, he says.

Levandowski is quick to point out the even bigger trend – health. Anything that's related to healthy cooking – cookware, tools, blenders, juicers – "the whole category has erupted," he says. At press time, Le Roux was interviewing for a nutritionist to add to its staff of 46 people.

Not so long ago, plastic storage was in vogue, but times have changed. "People want glass storage now," says Levandowski. "People are questioning the plastics," and asking, "Where it is made? Where silicone is made? How do we know what's in it? Is it safe?' It's a real drill."

Within the casual beverageware segment, acrylic rings up 58 percent of unit sales, surpassing glass. (NPD's Mednick is quick to point out that comparisons to the sales of acrylic and disposable plastic cups cannot be made at this time.)

The Grommet, an online retail site, has introduced several acrylic beverageware products to its customers, says Joanne Domeniconi, co-founder.

Recent additions include Barluxe, a line of Eastman Tritan drinkware, which Domeniconi says "looks just like real glass," and the Savino Wine Preservation System, which is available in acrylic and glass. The Grommet, which launched a wholesale division at NY Now, also sells nifty tools that appeal to the shopper looking for green and reusable kitchenwares. The Cuppow transforms the humble Mason jar into a hipster drinking vessel, and its sister product, Bnto is an insert that divides a canning jar into two compartments for food storage. Both products are made in the USA from BPA- and phthalate-free recycled food-grade plastic.

The site's products are curated and organized by Personal Values: Natural & Eco, Made in the USA, Handcrafted, Social Enterprises, Charities, Underrepresented Entrepreneurs and Crowdfunded. Shoppers can also sort by product category.

"Generally, people who follow our discoveries have decided they're interested in purchasing products that align with their own values made by independent makers and companies – the little guys," says Domeniconi.

The e-tail site This Land appeals to consumers who are seeking items that are Made in the USA. In fact, all the items are handcrafted by artisans.

Its products, founder Dan McCready explains, appeal to consumers from all demographics including those customers who buy fewer, but better quality, items. "They're investing in fewer things that will last," he says. The site, which launched in 2013, is adding more American artisan-made products to its lineup.

Two of the site's best sellers are a hand-blown whiskey flask and a forged steel bottle opener.

New Products

Savino Enthusiast
Savino, the award-winning wine preservation systems, is now available in an acrylic version. Savino, which was created by a frustrated wine enthusiast, keeps wine fresh for up to a week. Savino creates a new, elegant environment designed to preserve and serve wine. Designed to be extremely durable and functional, Savino has a 750ml capacity, fits in most refrigerators and is dishwasher safe. Savino Enthusiast is made in the USA from BPA-free Tritan. The acrylic container features a locking lid and is perfect for outdoor entertaining. Savino Connoisseur, which is made from glass, won a gia design award. SRPs: $29.99 for the Enthusiast, $59.95 for the Connoisseur.
Winestor LLC, Mountain View, Calif., 650-400-4085, www.savinowine.com


Kitchen Trio
Bambu's three essential cooking utensils that every level of cook can use, with color-accented the handles in bambu's new modern slate color. The company has gone minimal with packaging and provides washi tape patterns to create a simple and gift-ready set. Made from single-sourced, certified organic bamboo without glues. SRP: $19 for three.
Bambu, Portland, Ore., 877-226-2829, www.bambuhome.com