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Lower-alcohol wines set sights on 1m cases

Published:  04 May, 2012

The fast-growing lighter-style wine category has bumped Argentina out of the UK's top 10, and the 1 million case mark is firmly in its sights.

Figures from Nielsen show the no, low or reduced-alcohol wine category, which includes First Cape's Café Collection and Accolade Wines' Banrock Station Light, has grown by 24% in volume in the year to April 14, and 37% in value.

This is in stark contrast to the rest of the wine category, which has seen volumes decline by 2% in the same period, while value has grown just 4%.

Nielsen analyst Gavin Humphreys said: "While it's early days from a branded perspective, First Cape Café Collection has taken a major slice of the market, and this is followed by private label and Banrock Station."

He added that price "has to be a factor in the category's success", with an average off-trade price of £3.27 for the lower-alcohol category, 51% below the £4.94 average for regular wine.

Steve Barton, joint managing director at Brand Phoenix, thinks the category's potential is massive: "In only 21 months to already be bigger than Argentina is hugely exciting."
First Cape's Café Collection is in growth of 79.8%, and just made it into the top 20 wine brands, with 601,000 9-litre cases.

"This is beginning to become a powerful category," said Barton, predicting it will grow to a £300 million slice of the market within four years.

A recent survey by on-trade analysts CGA of 367 outlets showed that two-thirds of licensees do not see a market for low-alcohol products, however food-led venues thought lower-abv products "could gain traction".

Getting the taste right is key, according to Accolade Wines' innovation director Stephen Loftus, it worked on product development for four years.

PLB's head of wholesale marketing Adam Wyartt, described "holy grail wines" as those with a lower abv content but the "same taste profile" as regular wines.

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: "There is some fantastic innovation under way. It's great to see the energy and commitment we are all investing in making the Responsibility Deal a success."

See this week's issue of Harpers for an in-depth analysis of the lower alcohol wine category.