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Low alcohol wine still losing out to mocktails and beer

Published:  12 July, 2018

We know that consumers are more health conscious than ever before, with sustainably sourced avocado on toast becoming the zeitgeist for a generation which is also increasingly moderating its alcohol consumption.

But research shows that when it comes to wine lower alcohol opportunities (SOLA) under-index in the UK.

Perceptions around low quality and taste are two of the key reasons consumers aren’t looking to the wine category for SOLA alternatives, according to a new report from Wine Intelligence.

According to the report, the biggest opportunity within SOLA for the UK was wines which focus on ethical and sustainable production methods.

Fairtrade wine came in top, followed by organic wine, environmentally friendly wine and sustainable wine.

And despite moderate drinking trends, non-alcoholic wines represented one of smallest windows of opportunities.

Low-alcohol wine still remains ‘niche’ worldwide, said the report, even in countries where the opportunity is higher, like New Zealand, Australia and the Nordic countries, with consumers turning to other low and non-alcoholic drink choices over wine, such as mocktails, adult soft drinks and beer.

Although the lower-alcohol wine category may deliver future potential, currently, “The key concern for lower-alcohol wine is the perceived poor quality and taste of these wines,” said the report.

“Traditionally, there has been a big difference in the quality of lower-alcohol wines, with lower-alcohol wines being very green, harder and more acidic with more sugar to hide these traits”.

Meanwhile, consumption patterns continue to evolve.

According to Kingsland WinePro research reported on by Harpers earlier this year, 48% of UK alcohol drinkers moderate their consumption to some degree to help maintain a healthier lifestyle.

And it’s not just youngsters who are re-evaluating their health.

This number rises to 59.5% in over 45s, ahead of the 55% of this group that exercise regularly and 56% that moderate their sugar intake.

Avoiding hangovers and weight gain were also strong factors in considering moderation for all ages.

Improving the attractiveness of low or lower alcohol wines has been on the agenda for some time in the wine industry.

But while a trend for naturally lighter styles of wine, like the New Zealand Lighter Wines (9.5% abv) which were launched in Marks & Spencer back in May, continues to gain traction, wines under 5% of sufficient quality are still lacking on the high street.

Kingsland’s Neil Anderson, architect of WinePro, reinforced the need for innovation to keep abreast of shifting drinking patterns: “There is a changing landscape in wine and we need to be aware of changing consumer needs now more than ever before. There are challenges for us. Younger consumers are not pouring into wine – they are already moderating their drinking, while older consumers are starting to and plan to increase their moderation. We need to understand what the solutions are.”