The future is green for French wine as organic sales soar

Sales of French wines made with organically grown grapes are set to double between now and 2022, even as the downward trend for overall wine consumption appears firmly in place, an industry research group reported Friday.

The future is green for French wine as organic sales soar
The Massamier la Mignarde castle vineyard in south west France. Photo: AFP
Sales from vineyards which have quit using chemical pesticides to protect against pests and mould made up just 3.7 percent of the French market last year, with nearly 9.3 million 12-bottle cases sold, Britain's IWSR Drinks Market Analysis group said.
But that was more than twice the 4.6 million cases sold in 2012, and surging demand is expected to propel sales to 17.3 million cases by 2022.
And organic vineyards are able to command higher prices from consumers, with an average price 6.14 euros ($7) a bottle, around 33 percent above the 4.62 euros for conventional wines.
Organic wine revenues “will soon exceed one billion euros a year” in France, according to IWSR, which has been analysing the market since 1973.
The outlook reflects a growing global taste for organics, with 56 million cases sold worldwide last year, mainly in Europe, representing average annual growth of 14.1 percent since 2012.
French organic sales are expected to set the pace through 2022, with 14 percent annual growth compared with 9.2 percent globally.
By contrast, conventional French wine sales, excluding champagne and other sparkling wines, fell to 241 million cases last year from 267 million in 2012.
“Several studies have shown that there are fewer and fewer people who drink wine twice a day, more and more who don't drink at all, and most significantly, more occasional drinkers,” IWSR's head of research Jose Luis Hermoso said.
Demand is forecast to slump further, with sales of 208 million cases expected for 2022, the IWSR said.
“But people are drinking better quality wines,” Hermoso said.
“Young people, millennials, are drinking less but often better wines than their elders. And organic wine fits into this category,” he said.
The report was commissioned by the French organic wine association Sudvinbio.

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Cold snap ‘could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent’

A rare cold snap that froze vineyards across much of France this month could see harvest yields drop by around a third this year, France's national agriculture observatory said on Thursday.

Cold snap 'could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent'
A winemaker checks whether there is life in the buds of his vineyard in Le Landreau, near Nantes in western France, on April 12th, following several nights of frost. Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Winemakers were forced to light fires and candles among their vines as nighttime temperatures plunged after weeks of unseasonably warm weather that had spurred early budding.

Scores of vulnerable fruit and vegetable orchards were also hit in what Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie called “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.”

IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze in bid to ward off frosts

The government has promised more than €1 billion in aid for destroyed grapes and other crops.

Based on reported losses so far, the damage could result in up to 15 million fewer hectolitres of wine, a drop of 28 to 30 percent from the average yields over the past five years, the FranceAgriMer agency said.

That would represent €1.5 to €2 billion of lost revenue for the sector, Ygor Gibelind, head of the agency’s wine division, said by videoconference.

It would also roughly coincide with the tally from France’s FNSEA agriculture union.

Prime Minister Jean Castex vowed during a visit to damaged fields in southern France last Saturday that the emergency aid would be made available in the coming days to help farmers cope with the “exceptional situation.”

READ ALSO: ‘We’ve lost at least 70,000 bottles’ – French winemakers count the cost of late frosts