News - La tendance du bio dans la production française du vin - Les Grappes

The organic trend in French wine production

Today, the generic term "organic" covers a wide range of trends, from conventional organic wines (AB) to "nature" wines, sulfite-free wines, vegan wines and, of course, biodynamic wines.

Between 2007 and 2015, certified organic vineyards increased from 14,600 to 57,600 hectares, with a further 11,000 hectares in conversion, representing 8.7% of French vineyards. 11 Over the same period, household consumption of organic wines increased by 41%12 , partly bypassing traditional distribution channels.

Growing consumption in France

In 2017, organic farming accounted for 10.8% of agricultural employment and 5.7% of utilized surface area. 24% of organic farms specialize in wine production. What's more, according to a study by Agence Bio in 2016, wine represents the largest household purchase of organic products in terms of value (792 million), ahead of fresh vegetables (626 million) and milk (483 million).

Consumption of organic wines has also risen by almost 20% every year since 2010, even though wine consumption by volume in France has fallen, due in part to legislation and prevention campaigns against the dangers of alcohol.

If we look at the export figures, it appears that in 2018, organic wine represented 46% of exported wines. This can even be compared with all other AB products sold abroad: organic wine accounts for two-thirds.

Distribution still highly specialized

Although organic wine consumption is on the increase, it is still reserved for connoisseurs who know where to find what they are looking for, since it is not yet well represented in the major distribution structures.

The major players in the market, notably supermarkets and the main wine merchant chains (Nicolas with 500 outlets, Repaire de Bacchus, etc.), do not seem to be interested in the new trends that emphasize environmental awareness. However, it should be noted that 77% of wine consumers buy their wine from supermarkets.

BiboVino, the bag-in-box specialist, is the only major player in this niche, with 31 sales outlets, including 25 in France, and sells wines that are all from sustainable agriculture, including a selection of organic and biodynamic varieties. In the same vein, certain online sales sites specialize in this segment, such as, which sells only organic, biodynamic and natural wines. In short, organic and, more specifically, biodynamic wines are reserved for discerning consumers who visit specialized wine merchants or buy direct from the estate.

Distribution chosen by winegrowers: the Alsatian example

The fact that supermarkets are not yet promoting the new trends in organic and biodynamic wines is also partly due to a choice made by the producers. This can be seen in Alsace, for example, where certain winegrowers have chosen not to promote organic or biodynamic wines.

A sociological study on the coherence of professional behavior among Alsatian organic winegrowers, carried out by Jean Nizet, Denise Van Dam and Marcus Dejardin, reveals that most organic winegrowers in Alsace have a strong interest in organic winegrowing.reveals that most Alsatian winegrowers prefer "not to use négociants [...] and refuse to market their wines in supermarkets". This choice is justified on the one hand by the desire to limit the number of intermediaries between producers and end consumers, and on the other hand to retain a maximum margin on sales.This is what Les Grappes offers, for example, by enabling winemakers to sell their wine directly to a whole community of individuals and professionals via an online platform.

Despite the very limited supply of organic and biodynamic wines in the mass-market channels, winegrowers are organizing themselves differently to offer their products for sale. First of all, they are not afraid of a concentration of organic and biodynamic winegrowers in a single region, but rather see it as an asset: "For me, the whole of Alsace can go organic. It doesn't bother me. On the contrary: I'd even like it. (Source: Jean Nizet, La cohérence des comportements professionnels et privés chez les viticulteurs biologiques alsaciens, 2008).

Edouard Rapp

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