Following our Global SOLA report, our recently published country specific mini-SOLAs for Australia, Canada, Sweden, the US and the UK examine ethical consumerism in the wine industry in greater detail
Last month, we released our latest insights on the sustainable, organic, lower alcohol and alternative wine categories, under the title Global SOLA: Opportunities in sustainable, organic and lower alcohol wines, providing insights into how alternative wine categories have had an impact on wine consumers across 15 markets. This week we’ve published more detailed findings about five key markets, Australia, Canada, Sweden, the UK and the US, discussing how 12 ‘alternative’ wine categories* are being sought out to differing degrees by consumers.
Whilst a worldwide effort is underway to raise awareness stressing the importance of ethical and sustainable consumption and production, there is not a globally agreed-upon definition in many areas. What is recognised as ‘organic wine’ in one country (eg France) may not be able to be labelled as such in another legislative jurisdiction (eg the US). What is considered to be ‘non-alcoholic wine’ in Canada may only be able to be called ‘lower alcohol wine’ under Australian legislation. This is mirrored by a certain amount of confusion amongst consumers who do not have a clear understanding of what some of these categories are in relation to wine. However, using Wine Intelligence’s Opportunity Index, these mini-SOLA reports seek to bring clarity to these alternative wine categories. In addition, findings show that these countries are seeing an increase in interest on both the trade and consumer side, despite the confusion.
These reports also examine novel ways that producers are tackling environmental and social issues surrounding wine. For example, whilst a push for carbon neutrality may be an important goal for many companies, Lanchester Group, a UK distributor, have achieved ‘carbon-minus’ status. This means that they are able to produce more energy than they use. In addition to this, companies in Australia and the UK are using advances in technology and chemistry to allow consumers to lower the concentration of potentially harmful sulphites of any wine.
Moderating alcohol consumption is also an increasing theme throughout all five countries examined. Interestingly, however, this is being achieved both by not drinking at all as well as through drinking lower and non-alcoholic beverages that typically contain alcohol, such as wine and spirits. This category has seen recent innovation in this sector, attempting to overcome the still prevalent stigma that these alternative wines are of lower quality or do not taste as good as wine with a usual ABV.
One other area of interest discussed is vegan and vegetarian wines. Our data shows that despite continued interest in vegan and vegetarian products, this interest has not yet translated effectively into the wine consumer market. Both alternative wine types struggle for recognition and motivation to purchase across the five countries, with many consumers seeming to believe that all wine should be vegan as it comes from grapes. It seems that the use of animal-derived fining agents, such as fish oil and bone marrow, is not known by consumers. This lack of knowledge is being rectified by more prominent labelling by producers, so consumer sentiment is likely to change in this area over the next few years.
With the increased responsibility on both consumers and producers to play their part, it is positive to see that both groups are beginning to make wine an increasingly healthy, sustainable and ethical category. It is important that communication of these values continues to improve, to help raise awareness of the significant efforts being made. For more information on how we can make this happen, see our article ‘Five ways to sell sustainability’.
More information on 12 alternative wine categories discussed in the markets of Australia, Sweden, Canada, the US and the UK is now available in each country-specific SOLA report. In addition, each report breaks down purchase intent by wine type as well as opportunity for demographics and Portraits groups (not available for Sweden).
*Alternative wine categories discussed: Fairtrade wine, organic wine, sustainably produced & environmentally friendly wine, lower alcohol wine, preservative free & sulphite free wine, wines from a carbon neutral winery, non-alcoholic wine, orange / skin contact wine, vegan & vegetarian wine