“We have gone from consumption out of curiosity to structural consumption”

Overall, wine consumption figures are stable: in fact, down in recent years (down 3.6% in 2020, according to the OIV, although this year was impacted by COVID-19) .

Organic wine, however, may offer a silver lining for the wine industry: although still a niche sector, it is showing strong growth in some key wine markets where it is becoming a regular purchase for wine drinkers. wine.

And its sustainability credentials help it resonate with younger consumers: a complex demographic that the traditional wine industry sometimes struggles to reach.

Consumers now buy organic more often

Organic wine finds more and more resonance with consumers. In Western Europe – a region traditionally consuming wine thanks to the French, Spanish and Italian mega-producers – around 29% of consumers say they have integrated organic wine into their shopping basket. This represents an increase from 2015 when this figure was 17%.

In France, the leading country in the production and consumption of wine, the rise in power is particularly marked: 36% of consumers drink organic wine.

“For me, the most significant thing is that we have moved from consumption out of curiosity to structural consumption”, said Nicolas Richarme, president of the association of organic wine professionals from the south of France SudVinBio. The association brings together more than 500 companies from the organic sector and organizes the Millésime Bio organic wine fair in Montpellier each year.

“The gap has narrowed between consumers who say they have drunk organic wine, even once in their life, and regular consumers. More than a third of French consumers often buy organic wine.

“Furthermore, the dynamic is clearly in favor of organic products: in markets where wine consumption in general is falling, organic wine consumption is increasing, whether occasional or regular. This means that the volume of organic wine is increasing, as is its strategic importance. Consumption is changing and moving towards organic wine.

Attract a young drinker

But what is most interesting is that organic wine appeals to younger consumers than the average wine drinker: bodes well for the future.

Prior to Millesime Bio, IPSOS interviewed 3,000 people in France, the United Kingdom and Germany. About 46% of those under 35 have already consumed organic wine: compared to only 38% of those over 55. And the average consumer profile is that of a young high-income urban graduate.

Much of the interest in organic wine comes from environmental concerns, often seen as more pronounced among millennials.

European consumers are increasingly “green”.

  • 81% say they are very concerned about the future of the planet
  • 77% think it’s important to know where food comes from
  • 63% are willing to pay more for products that help protect the environment
  • 63% think that organic products are better for your health
  • and 48% say they often buy organic products

About 61% of respondents believe that organic wine is more environmentally friendly: it represents the main driver towards organic products. But societal and ethical concerns are there too. For example, 35% of consumers believe that organic promotes fairer trade.

Other factors driving consumers towards organic wine are the perception that it is healthier and of higher quality.

Although this information comes from Western Europe, it could be relevant for many other markets elsewhere: particularly in the United States where the wine industry caters to an aging clientele but has arguably failed to market its products to younger consumers.

Yes, organic wine is more expensive – but consumers are willing to pay extra

On average, consumers are willing to pay €11 for a standard bottle of wine: but are willing to pay an additional €2.90 for organic. This is more than in 2015: when the difference was 90 cents.

This dynamic is probably linked, researchers suggest, to an increased awareness of the fair wages of producers and a growing propensity to pay more for better quality products (63% of Europeans (wine consumers or not) are ready to pay more for products that help protect the environment, compared to 57% in 2015).

Facing the challenges

However, organic wine remains a niche category. One of the biggest and most documented challenges for organic wine is cost: 36% of consumers who don’t drink organic wine cite this as a reason.

But as people are now willing to pay more for quality, this may not be the biggest hurdle anymore. More importantly, consumers want to know more about what they are paying for. In fact, 38% said they did not buy organic products because they lacked product information, showing the need to educate consumers about the category and what makes organic wine different.

And availability is another issue: 23% said organic wine was not readily available or in the places they usually buy.

But if these problems can be solved, the way is open for more growth: with wine and in neighboring categories.

“There are still barriers to overcome”said Richarme. “For example, in terms of information, the markets are not yet fully aware of organic wine, which suggests that there is still a lot of room for improvement if we can educate people.

“And wine is a vehicle that brings with it other sectors, such as cider and beer. One of the good surprises revealed by the study is that one in five European consumers buys organic beer in a more or less regulatory way. The demand is there and it will drive the supply.

About Robert Wright

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