France falls for flavoured wines
The unlikely combination of lower alcohol and flavoured wines is the growing trend in the French market.
Any consumer looking for a lower alcohol or rosé wine in a French supermarket will probably end up staring at a bottle of Rosé Pamplemousse (Rosé grapefruit). With just 8 to 10.5% ABV, flavoured wines such as this are inexpensive and deliver an easy-going taste. In one word, these wines are approachable. No wonder why they are so sought after by younger French consumers, especially for an aperitif with friends (source: Wine Intelligence study on the aperitif, study conducted on behalf of Vinisud in Nov 2013, click here for summary findings).
Rosé Pamplemousse is at the forefront of the flavoured wine craze in the French market, which was recently classified as the fastest growing beverage category in off-trade sales. In March 2013, flavoured wines/sangria sales had grown +45.2% compared to the same period in 2012, beating rum, specialty beers, cognac and iced teas (Source: IRI in Rayon Boissons, June 2013).
Pretty much all multiple grocers now list flavoured wines, which are dominated by a couple of major players: Fruits & wine (Marie-Brizard), Very (Castel Frères) and Arômes & vins (Picard).
Interestingly, this trend opens up exciting opportunities for wine producers as well as new entrants to the wine category. For example, “V et fruits” which was founded in 2009, offers some 26 varieties of flavoured wines including rosé mandarin and berry-blackcurrant. They have experienced exceptional growth: €2.1M revenue in 2012 (vs. €300K in 2010) and have always been profitable (source: Infogreffe). Antésite, the French specialist of liquorice extracts and aromas and flavouring processes, developed from scratch a full range of 7 recipes of flavoured wines. They expect to sell 1 million bottles in 2013.
Of course, the flavoured wine category is not without its challenges. They are positioned at entry level price points: is there a space for more premium flavoured wines? Some believe yes. Companies such as “Maison Meneau” or “Distillerie Merlet” have positioned products in the €4-€5 price point segment. Another challenge is merchandising: flavoured wine sometimes struggle to find their space in the supermarkets aisle. In some markets, they are positioned near the rosé wines, in others in the “aperitif” section and in others simply they are simply mixed in with regular/traditional wines.
Nevertheless, Rosé Pamplemousse might only be the tip of the iceberg. The flavoured wines trend undoubtedly is fostering innovation and new thinking.