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Brits embrace at home wine drinking

Published:  31 March, 2021

Driven by Covid-19 lockdowns and closure of the on-trade, the at-home occasion has helped consumers reconnect with wine, with Brits having increasingly embraced wine drinking within the comfort of their own home during the pandemic, according to IWSR research.  

Although the research shows a “slightly negative” outlook for total wine in the UK, influenced by competition in the recovering on-trade and uncertain tariff and duty conditions, low-tempo at-home drinking had “suited the wine category in general”, said IWSR.

This is apart from sparkling wine, which has been negatively impacted by the lack of celebrations and its “slightly heavier” reliance on the on-trade compared to its still counterpart, it added.

“Although wine suffered heavily from the economic and on-trade downturn, the low-tempo nature of lockdown, more time for meal preparation, digital meet-ups and a propensity to treat oneself more often sparked a rediscovery of the category,” said Dan Mettyear, research director at IWSR.

“In many ways, the at-home occasion has helped consumers reconnect with wine,” he said, adding that this is a trend that looks set to remain in the year ahead. 

Moreover, he said industry drivers that have been making the category “more approachable and accessible” to new segments of the market would continue  

The research also showed the shift to the at-home occasion had varied country-by-country, although its found wine consumption had “transitioned well” from the on- to off-trade during the pandemic in “many markets” as well as in the UK. 

It pointed to Canada, which it said saw consumption “shift seamlessly” from on- to off-trade, with consumers happy to divert unused holiday funds towards personal treats and luxuries, while Germany’s high off-trade orientation and increased downtime had also helped to keep the wine category afloat.

However, in some markets, the shift to the off-trade was partly slowed down due to the challenges of scaling an ecommerce structure in such a short time. 

In France, for example, the IWSR said the pandemic heavily affected the activity of several large wine specialist sites, with supply issues and delivery challenges extending delays. 

On a global scale, although the IWSR said that still and sparkling wine consumption would bounce back in 2021 and “inch forward towards recovery”, it forecasted that still wine volume would remain short of pre-Covid-19 levels by 2024. 

On the other hand, it estimated that sparkling wine will experience “good health” throughout the recovery, with parity likely to be restored by 2023, driven by Prosecco’s continued ability to “challenge preconceptions of occasion and functionality” within the sparkling wine category. 

Looking at the wine category as a whole, underlying the recovery would be opportunities for growth within the digital space, the emergence of new formats as a vehicle for recruitment, increased importance of sustainability and process, as well as the continued evolution of consumption occasions and habits, the research concluded.