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Friday read: Prosecco DOC Rosé's future prospects

Published:  26 November, 2021

After years of intense lobbying by producers, the Prosecco Consortium finally allowed blended sparkling wine styles to be bottled under the 'Prosecco DOC Rosé' designation in 2020. Exports began in November last year, although there have been reports of a Pinot Noir shortage in 2021. Nevertheless, the category has got off to a flying start, with buoyant sales and an enthusiastic consumer reception. But how sustainable is this growth, and will it affect sales of 'ordinary' Prosecco?

Charles Overin, head of marketing, brand and insights at Kingsland Drinks, takes a look at Prosecco Rosé’s first year on the UK market and shares his insights and predictions on where ‘pink’ is headed.

This month sees the one-year anniversary of the launch of Prosecco DOC Rosé – it has been on shelves in the UK since the Prosecco Council allowed producers to add up to 15% of Pinot Noir to the traditional Glera grapes. As a welcome addition to supermarket shelves as well as wine lists, it has really brought excitement to the Prosecco, sparkling wine and rosé categories.

The consumer response

Overall, we know that around 20 million bottles of Prosecco DOC Rosé were made from the 2019 vintage, with between 40 and 50 million bottles being produced from the 2020 vintage, according to the Consorzio Tutela Prosecco DOC.

Its first Christmas was spent under lockdown conditions, so the new pink fizz was only purchased in retail for consumption among households and small social bubbles, which hugely restricted its reach, awareness and reason to purchase. But as the Covid-19 restrictions eased, this new category really started to take off. It performed well over summer 2021, and we’ve got a strong feeling sales will see a major boost as we go into the festive season. We don’t see it as a fleeting trend – we definitely see it as something that is here to stay.

In fact, Prosecco overall is continuing to sell well (up 14.5% in value 52 weeks) and the whole sparkling wine category is up 19% (IRI Marketplace 52 weeks to August 2021) as more consumers are coming into the category. They are looking for new and interesting products and we know from still wine sales that consumers like pink coloured, rosé style drinks. Currently, still rosé wine is just over 10% of the total UK off-trade market, so there is significant head room for growth within rosé sparkling wine.

The relationship between rosé and white Prosecco

Statistics show that 20% of all wine consumers in the on-trade have tried Prosecco DOC Rosé with an over-indexing in younger consumers, and Prosecco DOC Rosé drinkers are more likely to try premium on-trade retail brands, presenting sales opportunities for those who aren’t currently stocking (CGA Wine Report, Nov 2021). In our experience, the ratio of Prosecco DOC Rosé being sold versus the same brand white Prosecco counterpart is approximately 13% to 15%. When we consider our typical ratio of rosé Champagne versus the same brand Brut NV is approximately 8 to 10%, we believe that Prosecco rosé is off to a very strong start with room to grow.

A diverse category

Prosecco DOC Rosé is successfully capitalising on the growing popularity that both sparkling and rosé wines are experiencing among UK drinkers.  There’s clear demand in the market for Prosecco DOC Rosé – it has brought new drinkers in to the category, and boosted sales of other pink sparkling wines, brut sparkling wines and still rosé.

It’s a regulated product so quality will always be consistent across the board, and while there are different blending and production techniques, grape growing and harvesting differences etc among growers and producers, this results in different tasting notes, nuanced flavours and differences in colour.

Marketing Prosecco DOC Rosé

From our perspective, the main challenge is communicating that Prosecco DOC Rosé is a different product to standard Brut Prosecco, therefore justifying its higher (average) price point. The other challenge we anticipate is whether producers can grow enough Pinot Noir in the region to meet rising global demand.

However, there are reasons for optimism. The new duty rates announced in the Budget will undoubtedly help the category; sparkling wine currently has a 28% duty premium versus still wine, which will be removed if the budget proposal is agreed (to be implemented February 2023). This could drive significant growth for sparkling wine as well as Prosecco and Prosecco DOC Rosé, as products will become cheaper and more affordable.

The future

Prosecco DOC Rosé is here for the long term – consumer confidence in the product is high. It’s an affordable and versatile fizz, slightly more premium than some sparkling wines, but perfect for celebrations and gatherings. Rosé always over-indexes at Christmas (as does sparkling wine), so we’d expect consumers to be popping corks a-plenty over the festive season. It’s likely to be a top seller in hospitality, retail, and as a gift item. Indeed, data shows that Prosecco is drunk by a slightly younger wine consumer and we’re also seeing some drinkers turn to sparkling for everyday at-home drinking occasions.

We’re expecting more brands – and retail private labels – to land on our shelves in the coming years, as producers develop their ranges, plant and harvest more Pinot Noir, and increase volumes to meet global demand. The future is bright.