Soaring sales of English wine, the growing popularity of low-alcohol wine and an acceptance of boxed wine are the three key conclusions of new research on the UK wine market from Mintel.
Sales of English wine reached £25M last year, a rise of more than 50% in value and 25% in volume compared with 2010.
English vinyards – while supplying a small proportion of the total market − have benefited from consumers’ willingness to try new wines. 72% of buyers reported trying wines from many different countries and more than half (56%) said they were more willing to try English wine than in the past.
One in two (52%) thought English wines had improved in quality.
“English wine looks well placed to continue growing in the coming years, with increasing numbers of vineyard plantings and bottles produced. While growth is rapid, the English wine industry faces some key obstacles including limited mainstream availability.”
Chris Wisson, senior drinks analyst at Mintel, said: “English wine looks well-placed to continue growing in the coming years, with increasing numbers of vineyard plantings and bottles produced. While growth is rapid, the English wine industry faces some key obstacles including limited mainstream availability.”
The growing popularity of low-alcohol wine was another factor highlighted by the research. “Despite the difficulties and potential extra costs of production, lower-alcohol wines are one of the few segments of the wine market showing robust year-on-year growth, with value sales increasing by 40% to around £23M over 2011/12,” said the report.
Sales benefited from lower duty on wines with an alcohol by volume of 5.5% or less and more emphasis on healthy lifestyles and lower alcohol consumption. But just one-in-five wine consumers (19%) claimed to be interested in lower-alcohol wines.
A key barrier to the segment was taste, as about one third (32%) of wine buyers said they preferred normal-strength wines.
But less than one third (27%) said they would expect lower-alcohol wines to taste inferior.
“Many wine drinkers are becoming increasingly price-sensitive and unwilling to pay more for their wine,” said Wisson. “The opportunity for wines with an ABV of 5.5% or less is that some of the tax savings could be passed onto consumers, encouraging less affluent users in particular to remain engaged with the market.”
However, lower-alcohol wines are often more difficult and expensive to produce than standard-ABV wines, he added.
Also, the research revealed screw tops, boxes and pouches were winning increasing acceptance among wine buyers. Up to four-in-10 (39%) agreed that wine in a box or a pouch was equally as good quality as bottled wine.
“Recent years have seen many wine drinkers reappraising their perceptions and use of wine in differing formats and packaging styles. Boxed wine has the added advantage of the wine keeping for a longer period of time than in a bottle, facilitating more flexible usage and encouraging moderate drinking,” said Wisson.
“Reducing wastage, boxed wine provides an ideal solution in a market which is both environmentally and cost conscious.”
Wine facts in numbers
- 26% − think boxed wine is inferior to bottled
- 39% − agree wine in a box or a pouch is equally as good quality as bottled wine
- £10.6bn – predicted value of UK wine market this year
- 57% – consumer who list the grape type as one of their main choice factors
- 43% – drink rosé