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Waitrose predicts healthy future for South American and lighter style wines and spirits

Published:  24 October, 2014

South American wines and more left field grape varieties like an Austrian Grüner Veltliner or a Spanish Albarino are going to become far more trendy in the months ahead, according to the new Waitrose Food and Drink Report 2014.

The study predicts South American food and drink as a whole is going to enjoy a resurgence as we lead up to the Olympics in Rio de Janiero in two years time.

Whilst Brazil will be the main beneficiary there will be knock effect for products and drinks from across South America, said Waitrose. Premium tequila, for example, was one of its best selling spirits in the last year.

It finds that white wine drinkers, in particular, are ready to "venture out from the safe-ground of Sauvignon Blanc to new grapes and countries". Sales of Austrian wine were up 17% in the last year.

The overall trend for consumers to seek out healthier, lighter products, and in the drinks category lower alcohol lines, is good news for countries offering fresher, crisper, refreshing, lighter style wines and spirits. Loire wines, for example, are up 30% in the last year.

Provenance is also becoming a key factor in what drinks products consumers are buying shown in the demand for US pale ales, British craft beers and premium gins which are up 26\% in sales.

The "drink of the year" at Waitrose goes to Aperol which has seen sales climb by 800% over the last 12 months. It also predicts further success for sparkling wine as it becomes even more of an every-day drink and growing interest in more niche spirits areas such as Japanese whisky.

Launching the report this week Mark Price, Waitrose's managing director, said British supermarkets need to not only wake up to the threat of the hard discounters, but the fundamental changes in the way consumers are looking to shop and what they buy when they do.

The outdoor supermarket and weekly shop were now a "thing of the past". Instead consumers are looking to top up their shopping throughout the week and often buying food just for that evening's meal.

"People are buying food for now," he said this week. "The notion that you are going to go and push a trolley around for the week is a thing of the past. It is fundamentally changing the market."

The report finds that three in four people do not know what they are going to eat or drink for dinner at 4pm in the afternoon. Which is good news for convenience operators as one in four people will visit a convenience store once a day according to Waitrose.

This has serious implications for big box, out of town retailing, he stressed. Which is potentially bad news for the so called Big Four retailers, he added, who he told the Telegraph this week "have an estate estate for how people shopped two decades ago".

Waitrose appears to be ahead of the retail curve recently reporting the best sales growth of all the major grocers, up 6.8p%, for the last 12 weeks of trading giving it a total market share of 5.2% its highest ever, according to Kantar Worldpanel.