The domestic and global organic wine market may be niche, but it’s not a new wine category; indeed, it’s been around for millennia.
Changing consumer sentiment is increasing demand and demand is growing fast.[i] Sentiment towards organics is positive and buying organic is becoming top of mind in purchasing decisions. So, what are the main drivers of this new zeitgeist?
Increase interest in our health and wellness
Health and wellness are a driver of the ever-increasing demand for healthy, environmentally-friendly food and drink. Our preferences, according to The Australian Organic Report 2018, are for simple, natural foods, and beverages that are unprocessed or minimally processed. The Health & Wellness survey 2017 cites a clear trend towards all things ‘natural’. Consumers surveyed increasingly pay more attention to general health and wellness, to food quality, and are demanding additive-free foods.
We are more knowledgeable
With a world of knowledge on our smartphones consumers now investigate what they are eating and drinking. Rather than wait for the producer to market their product and control their message, consumers are researching first. Consumers want to know much more than the marketing fluff; they want to know the provenance, how it’s made, what’s in it, and who made it.
Online has increased accessibility
The internet has revolutionised the way we shop. No longer do we need to search for a wine shop that may, or may not, stock organic wines. How great is it to come home from a long day at work to find a curated box of hand-selected organic wines on your doorstep? Check out our online wine shop at Wine Revolution.
Organic farming practices are chemical free
A vineyard that is farmed with organic practices is ‘working with nature’, farmed without chemicals and consequently is more manual labour intensive. The philosophy of organic farming is to get the natural ecosystem working in harmony to prevent diseases and pests; in conventional practices, chemicals play this role. Additionally, chemical fertilisers may be added to the soil; under organic practices only approved natural inputs are allowed. Weeds are controlled manually by mulching, mowing, slashing and by planting weeds that keep other weeds in check, such as the Soursob used in the Battle of Bosworth vineyards. Disease such as Downey Mildew is prevented through air circulation and natural spray preparations. Pests are controlled through natural predators in the ecosystem or approved natural sprays. Fertilisers are made from organic matter such as animal manure and composts.
We want to know what’s in our wine
Consumers have a right to know and understand what they are eating and drinking. Australian wine labelling laws, yet to catch up with food labelling laws, only need to state if preservative 220 (sulphur dioxide) has been added and do not need to indicate the potentially hundreds of chemical compounds from spray residues used in non-organic viticulture. Drinking organic means not drinking herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Organic wine has less sulphur dioxide
You’ll be drinking fewer preservatives with a glass of organic wine. Organic winemaking is governed by the Australian Certified Organic Standard, and as such controls what additives and processing aids are allowed in the winemaking. The maximum sulphur dioxide levels allowed is about half that of conventional wine and are capped at 100 ppm for red wine and 150 ppm for white and rose wine. In comparison, in conventional winemaking sulphur dioxide is capped at 250 ppm for dry wine and 300 ppm for sweet wine.
People are increasingly concerned about the long-term health of our planet and the sustainability of food production. The Australian Organic Report 2018 ranks ‘environmentally friendly’ number three as a perceived benefit of organic food. This is closely preceded by ‘additive-free’ and ‘chemical-free’.
Millennials leading the organic way
Millennials have grown up being exposed to and are more knowledgeable of environmental concerns. They appreciate and understand the benefits of organics. The Australian Organic Report 2018 finds that this group, despite having the lowest disposable income, are the biggest up-takers of organics.
We want more choice
Finally, we want alternatives to mainstream wine that caters to a diversity of lifestyles. The organic wine category wine opens a window onto a broad range of wines including biodynamic, vegan, preservative-free and low-intervention. Look out for producers such as Tamburlaine, Kalleske, Temple Bruer, and Smallfry to name just a few. Check out our Organic, Vegan Low Intervention, Biodynamic, and Preservative Free packs.
[i] In 2017, the domestic organic wine market grew 40% from 2016, outperforming nonorganic wine (Schwartz, 2018). Aligning with this growth and a key indicator of consumer sentiment towards buying organic is the yearly consumer survey, The Australian Organic Report 2018. The survey found that 6 in10 Australian households buy organic products in any given year and have increased their spend on organic products by 40% per household (ACO, 2017).
Peak Industry researcher, Wine Intelligence has released a new consumer report called Global Wine SOLA Report: Sustainable, Organic & Lower-alcohol Wine Opportunities 2018. This is a first-ever survey into the alternative wine sector, which developed an opportunity index, crossing 11 markets (including Australia) and 12 subcategories of wines to determine which category of wines have the greatest chance of consumer success. The opportunity index represents awareness, purchase intent and affinity with a wine category. One of the key findings is that organic wines have the greatest opportunity amongst consumers across the eleven global markets, with generic categories such as ‘sustainably produced’ and ‘environmental-friendly’ scoring highly (Wine Intelligence, 2018).