In this article, North South Wines’ Head of National Off Trade, Claire Greenwood, looks at the organic wine market and what retailers, licensed premises and the beverage industry as a whole will want to do to capitalise on its rising potential.
At the time of writing this blog, our industry is looking forward to Organic September 2021.
Organic September is a month-long campaign by The Soil Association which aims to raise awareness of organic products. As UK wine distributors, North South Wines is certainly feeling upbeat about the fact that beverages such as beers, wines and spirits are vying for top position in terms of highest change in value growth across the organic sector since 2018. (The Soil Association’s Organic Market Report 2021).
Everything suggests that, when it comes to organic wine, the future looks bright.
Press Home the Message
This is certainly good news for organic wine producers, retailers and sellers everywhere, but what does the buzz around organic farming and wine supply mean for these businesses as they prepare to capitalise on this trend?
When looking to harness the potential of emerging and growing markets, the usual response from suppliers is to start pressing home the marketing message to willing and potential consumers in order to stimulate sales.
However, from our experience as wine distributors, this is something wine sellers have yet to get right.
At a wine industry seminar headed up by Harpers recently, it was generally agreed by the panel that too many messages surrounding organic and sustainability are making things unclear, on an industry-wide level.
This is driving consumer confusion about the term ‘organic’ and what it actually means. In turn, this is making it harder for retailers and licenses premises to sell – and there are varying reasons for this.
Lack of clarity
For a start, ‘organic’ is a word consumers hear a lot, but don’t necessarily understand in terms of legality, best practice, and measurement.
This lack of clarity is further driven by a habit among the industry to use ‘natural’, ‘green’ and ‘organic’ interchangeably – without any clear diferentiation.1
The development of a clear universal definition and message that is based around the benefits of ‘going organic’ would certainly help sellers have more meaningful conversations with their customers.
This will no doubt help increase demand as a result.
With the term ‘organic’ clearly defined and used consistently, the roll out of a clear, globally recognised badge would then help identify the brands that adhere to a clear set of criteria and standards.
Displayed on the wine label, this would help consumers quickly pick out organic produce and prevent them from having to search for the information they need.
Wine suppliers will then be able to focus on what they do best: Understand the profile of the typical organic consumer to better meet expectations and demands.
However, this is a challenge in itself.
There have been several studies that have attempted to pinpoint the main drivers behind organic wine sales and failed. In fact, many reveal some varying and conflicting results. 2
One thing that has surfaced, however, is that many organic food consumers follow similar patterns to non-organic shoppers when it comes to buying wine – and see price or country of origin as the most important quality cue for wine. 3
There is evidence that consumers of organic food would buy more organic wine if their preferred type and variety of conventional wine would be available in organic quality at similarly price levels. 4
In other words, whether a wine is organic or not, consumers will continue to perceive value based on the quality of the wine itself.
This goes against the idea that conscientious consumers will prioritise ‘ethical’ over everything else and that – as a result – organic will simply sell itself.
For retailers and licensed premises who are looking to benefit from the potential of organic, this is a very big deal.
It sends out a clear message that, when getting into the mindset of the organic shopper, we need to understand the type of wines they prefer so that we can provide them with great value products that satisfy their tastes as well as their preference for organic too.
Ahead of the curve
At North South Wines, we are already well ahead of this curve.
We have been putting our weight behind organic wine for years by seeking out partnerships with organic wine producers and encouraging our existing producers to move over to organic processes by offering support and guidance.
We currently have over sixty organic wines in our portfolio and have just launched a new organic range with MontGras and an organic Provence Rose from La Bargemone.
However, we stand by our principles that all of wines must stack up in terms of pricing, taste and quality regardless of if they are organic, or not.
Great choice right here
So, if you’re a retailer or licensed premises that’s looking to provide great value, great quality wines that have the extra benefit of being organic, then you might want to consider dropping us a line to talk about our portfolio.
In the meantime, here are a few of our favourites that we’d recommend you check out. Similarly, you can visit our wine portfolio at www.northsouthwines.co.uk/products if you’d like to know more.
Purato wines have been certified organic for over a decade. The vineyard is based in Sicily and considers it wine to be ‘green to the extreme’.
Not only is Purato wine organically produced, it is also carbon neutral, vegan and packaged only in recycled and recyclable materials.
Varietals to look out for include Grillo Spumante, Catarratto Pinot Grigio, Rose, Nero d’Avola and Sicarri Appassimento.
Cortese is a small estate in Vittoria, producing limited production wines, and which focuses on ancient techniques include clay amphora and open top fermenters, organic and sustainable winemaking and promotes local grape varieties.
- Santa Tresa
Santa Tresa is a historic estate dating back to 1679.
It produces single estate wines, native lesser-known Sicilian varietals including a rich Cerasuolo from Italy’s 2nd lowest yield, behind Amarone. Includes: Grillo Spumante, Frappato Spumante, Grillo Viognier, Frappato and Cerasuolo di Vitttoria.