Quality is no accident

Alko products undergo rigorous testing before being stocked in our stores – we know the products we sell. We test our beverages thoroughly not only by tasting and smelling, but also by carrying out accurate laboratory analyses.

Product quality control consists of sensory evaluation and laboratory tests performed by the Alcohol Control Laboratory. Testing is carried out both when a new product is selected and when the product changes in some way, such as due to the introduction of a new vintage. In addition to a flawless taste, Alko also ensures that the labelling on product packaging is accurate and fulfils legal requirements.

Sensory evaluation is part of ensuring product quality

Alko’s sensory test team analyses every new product that we introduce in our general selection and as a specialty product. The test team includes product experts from both head office and the stores. In connection with sensory evaluation, we prepare a product description for each beverage, define the flavour type, describe the aromas of the product and assign suitable food pairing symbols to the wine.

Your beverage has passed stringent laboratory testing

In addition to sensory testing, the beverage is thoroughly lab-tested by the Alcohol Control Laboratory (ACL). ACL’s top experts in alcohol analytics check aspects such as the alcohol content of the product, the sugar content of wines and the bitterness of beers. The Alcohol Control Laboratory has 34 accredited analysis methods. It examines about 6,000 samples each year and carries out more than 60,000 individual analyses.

Cooperation and monitoring returns are a seal of high product quality

As Alko’s selection is so extensive, we cannot test each and every product batch before it goes on sale. Although product producers and importers carry out their own quality assurance, some products with quality defects occasionally end up on sale. The majority of these defective products are one-off cases that cannot be prevented even with thorough preliminary inspections. We actively monitor the number of returns and are able to use this information to identify and remove defective product batches from sale. Our suppliers play a significant role in Alko’s product quality. Smooth cooperation ensures that we are aware of our products’ delivery chain, and also helps us obtain any significant information about quality-related issues without delay.  

Quality Control in figures

In 2019, we carried out sensory analyses of a total of 8,689 offered products. Including analyses of the products that are already included in our selection, we carried out sensory analyses of almost 12,000 samples during the year.

In 2019, a total of 12,295 products were returned to us. Most of them were wines. The most common reason for product returns is cork taint. Cork taint gives the product a bad aroma reminiscent of rotten wood or a cellar.

A product recall means the removal of an individual batch of defective products from sale. In 2019, 36 product recalls were carried out. The most common reason for product recalls was flavour defects. These are not dangerous to consumers. Flavour defects include cork taint or product oxidisation.

In 2019, two products were removed from the selection due to quality reasons. Reasons for removal may include erroneous label marks.

  2019 2018 2017
Product samples 8,689 8,889 8,483
Product returns 12,295 11,800 13,900
of which wines 91% 90% 91%
Product returns due to corking
(cork taint)
32% 33% 34%
Recalls 36 30 33
Removed from the selection
due to quality reasons
2 2 2