The recent move upmarket in the wine industry is linked to the current concerns of consumers, who are increasingly demanding and require more transparency on the products they consume.
The lifestyle of the new generation contrasts with that of their parents and grandparents. The many food scandals that have appeared since the early 1990s such as the mad cow crisis in 1992 in France, the dioxin chicken and egg crisis in 1999, the avian flu in 2003, the E. bacteria epidemic.Coli in 2011 or the Friponil egg crisis in 2017, to name but a few, has created a "diffuse anxiety linked to food quality" (Fassier-Boulanger, 2018). Confidence with the producer has been broken and a climate of mistrust has set in. Consumers want more transparency on the products they consume and want more natural products.
In addition, there is now a general awakening of ecological awareness, with European citizens becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues. 96% of Europeans believe that environmental protection is a major issue, more than 80% feel personally responsible for it and three quarters of them say they are ready to act (Ginsburger, Petev, 2018). The younger generation, led by figures such as Greta Thunberg, is particularly invested in the fight against global warming and is imposing respect for nature as a strong demand.The wine sector is particularly concerned because consumers are increasingly aware of the impact of agricultural practices on the environment (soil depletion, depletion of groundwater, abuse of phytosanitary treatments...). However, the terroir is an integral part of the French heritage, as shown by the large volumes of wines with geographical indication sold in France between May 2018 and April 2019.Organic agriculture, or the production of natural wines, often appears to consumers as a solution to continue to produce, while respecting nature. The carbon balance of the final product is also an important element for the consumer. Thus, we can imagine that producers will soon be confronted with this new problem. Indeed, transport, the manufacture of the bottle and the cooling of the must have already been identified as elements having a major impact on the CO2 balance .
Finally, these concerns are likely to intensify. Indeed, the effects of global warming are already beginning to be felt in the consumer's glass. The rise in air temperature (+1.4°C on average since 1900) has led to an increase in the alcohol content of wines. Consumers are increasingly aware of this and are exerting "extremely strong pressure" on the producer, in the words of Christophe Navarre, President of Vinexpo.
Consumer demands are already perceptible today with the craze for new segments, such as natural or organic wines. Sales of organic PDO wines jumped by 15% in 2018 for Bordeaux wines . The project announced by Emmanuel Macron at the Salon de l'Agriculture in February 2019 to make French vineyards, "the first glyphosate-free vineyard in the world", as part of the ecological transition could further support this growth. Especially since, as confirmed by the Sowine 2019 barometer, organic wines are very well received by consumers. Indeed, one out of two buyers is ready to pay more for a wine labelled organic (Baromètre Sowine / Dynata. Sowine, 2019). 80% of organic wine purchases take place in supermarkets. The main motivations for buying organic wine are to ensure the quality of the wine, to support the terroirs and producers, and to respect the environment. Organic production could therefore be an alternative that would satisfy consumers.
Producers must now put in place actions to offer wines that meet the requirements of consumers who are connected and concerned about their environment. Indeed, as in any market, the consumer has a significant power: that of buying or not buying a product. Thus, taking these new developments into account is essential to the commercial success of a wine grower.
By Arthur Karsenty, Solenne Mior & Flore Vimal du Monteil