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Organic wine sales dip nearly 10%, Soil Association says

Published:  07 April, 2015

Sales of organic wines have dipped nearly 10% in the last year, according to figures from the Soil Association.

Lee Holdstock, Soil Association trade development manager told supermarket sales of organic wine had dipped 9.3% in the 52 weeks to 31 Jan 2014 (based on data compiled for The Soil Association by Nielsen), compared to 0.6% of the non- organic wine market. Total organic food and drink rose 2.3% in the same period, he said.

The organic market comprises around 0.2% of the overall wine market, according to Soil Association, and is worth around £9m.

"Organic wine did well over the initial recession years, as consumers treated themselves with 'affordable indulgences' , to take the sting out of all the belt tightening, but as we get to 2013, things were firmly in decline," he said.

However he said there was evidence of a recovery in the 12 weeks to the end of January, up +2.5%, and the picture "seemed to be improving".

The independent market was also seeing far more positive growth, he added, but this was not tracked by Nielsen's figures. "Reports from key on-line retailers such as Vintage Roots, although have been flat since the start of the recession, sales in 2014 were very positive for them (12%). They feel this is typical for independent wine retail," he said.

Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene, which also specialises in organic and biodynamic wines, agreed sales through independent had been strong.

"Over 70% of our wine list is organic and it has broadly increased," he said. "For wines above £7, the vast majority are organic or biodynamic - we like them not because they are organic, but because it makes for better terroir wines. A few years ago, people were put off organic as they thought it was "faddy", but people understand the correlation better now."

"We've notice in restaurants, bars and smaller independents and regional retailers, sales have increased dramatically and more merchants and independents are specialising in it," he said. "Supermarkets don't have the time to tell the story, it's just about the price point."

He said the proportion of accredited organic wines had increased but warned that there were reservations about the term 'organic' and argued that it was in danger of becoming "meaningless". 

"There are too many certification bodies and it means different things in different countries - it doesn't go far enough and already many producers already go beyond the 'basic' requirements," he said.