Rehrig Pacific 1-Way PET PubKegs - Rant

As it relates to wine on tap, I've worked with virtually every keg format available. Weekly we get asked what I think about 1-way PET kegs. I will save my steel vs. 1-way rant & raves for another day. But the bottom line is steel wins in the field every day. 

That said, steel is the most expensive format for us to support. So in terms of this discussion you would expect my bias to be in favor of 1-ways. Unfortunately, the Rehrig Pacific 1-Way PET PubKegs (www.pubkeg.com) when used 'as-sold' are dead on arrival. Here is a quick look at these kegs.

Rehrig's pitch is simple and compelling at first glance. Sterile hard plastic bladders arrive at the winery, ready for filling. No washing or sterilizing time/expense. Standard resealable Sankey D fittings, a light weight ergonomic outer shell and top protect everything in transit. These shells nest neatly for return (keg deposits are required, albeit only $10) and the winery's cost per keg is fixed with easy return shipping logistics. For less than 20% of the cost of a steel keg this 1-way option eliminates the potential for lost assets in field and return freight expense. Sounds good, right?

Good:

  • Standard Sankey D - consistent with an industry standard
  • Resealable - for events and tap takeovers
  • Inexpensive - low 1x fixed cost
  • Durable - they bounce and don't break ... don't ask, just trust me
  • Preservation - I haven't experienced any wine quality issues 6-12 month on shelf

You did what? The outer shells are a deal killer. The marketing collateral is blatantly untrue "It has been designed to have the same diameter and height as the slim quarter keg currently in use." It may have been 'designed' that way but they are not 'produced' that way. Remember, a key selling point is the lower keg deposit, with shells that easily nest together for efficient return shipping. You can't do both. Same size and nests. The shell is tapered and the top is a larger diameter then a steel 1/6 bbl, so ...

  • I can only fit 16 (vs. 20 steel) per pallet layer - result, shipping costs increase 25%
  • They don't fit in standard Micromatic 4-tap dual zone wine boxes and consumer more space in a standard beer box - result, winery loses those taps
  • As a distributor I have to incorporate another keg deposit sku, industry standard is $30 - result, increased training and auditing costs
  • Customers assume they are recyclable - result, $10 lower margin when customers toss them but still expect the keg deposit returned when we start asking where they all went

I don't know all the details but I've been told Rehrig Pacific is a plastic manufacturer and has the distribution rights for the bladders. They manufacturer the shells. Maybe the reason the product bucks so many industry standards is just that simple. 

Or maybe there is more to it. It doesn't matter. The shells kill it and all of the benefits can't outweigh the negatives. 

I've told our suppliers we will not accept any more kegs in these shells. 

So what to do ... simply nix the outer shell. Buy the bladders without the shell and package in a square, wax bottom box. Do that, and it is a very credible solution. I still prefer steel but this is my favorite 1-way setup at this point.