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Wine: increase in purchases and domination of bag-in-box [Market research]

2020 will have been a very atypical year. Market Research on the wine market in France shows that the habits of the French have changed. Consumption has increased significantly, and Bag-in-Box (BIB) now represents almost half of the wine sales in supermarkets. In this article, we propose a reading of these trends and highlight the changes in the behavior of wine buyers. In particular, we will look at the wines benefiting the most from decanting and the trends for the second half of 2021.


The evolution of pre- and post-Covid wine sales

This is a perfect time to learn about the effect of the confinement on wine consumption. Indeed, even if we are not yet out of the Covid crisis, it is possible to compare the figures of the January-February 2021 period with those of the same period in 2020. A series of statistics has just been published by France Agrimer highlighting the Covid crisis’s effect on wine purchases in supermarkets.

First of all, there was an increase in sales of wine in supermarkets, with white wines coming out on top:

  • +1.6% in volume for red wines (+4.9% in value)
  • +11.7% in volume for white wines (+16.4% in value!)
  • +5% in volume for rosé wines (+6.1% in value)

These developments reinforce the long-term trends observed since the early 1990s (see graph below). Rosé wines have indeed taken an increasingly important market share in terms of volume (1st graph). Still, there is a negative differential in terms of value (lower graph), a sign that these wines are not very expensive. On the other hand, white wines have been following a marked trend since 2010 of moving upmarket (faster increase in value than in volume). This trend is even more marked in 2020-2021 than in previous years.

The evolution of wine consumption in France since 1995.

During the confinement, the French drank less and spent less money on alcohol

The increase in supermarket sales in January-February 2021 contrasts with sales in the first half of 2020. In the first half of 2020, wine sales in France were down by “only” 1%. The confinement has led to the closure of bars and restaurants and had made the industry lose 1.5 billion Euros.

As France Agrimer had underlined during a previous press conference, the deconfinement had led to a 7% increase in sales between April 27 and May 24.

Between 2021 and 2020, white wine sales increased by 11.7% and 16.4% in value.

credits: Shutterstock

Increase in the share of e-commerce

As we predicted in our feature on the impact of Covid on food retail, e-commerce has done well, gaining a 1.5% market share in 12 months.

Organic wine on the rise during the Covid crisis

Organic wine sales are up 11% in January-February 2020 and the same period in 2021. This increase, although impressive, does not hide the small market share that organic wine represents. In volume, organic wine represents only 3.6% of sales. This share logically increases in value (5.5%).

Bag-in-Box (BIB) represents 44% of market share in volume, up 10% from 2020.

Almost half of the wine sold in Bag-in-Box!

Bag in Box (BIB)

A “Bag-in-Box” or BIB, a container that will account for nearly half of all wine sales in French supermarkets by 2021. Copyright Maria Rantanen via Flickr

Perhaps the most surprising statistic about wine consumption comes from the packaging department.
Over the January-February 2020-2021 period, there is surprising consumer interest in Bag-in-Box (BIB).  They now represent 44% of the market share in volume, up 10% from 2020. In other words, almost half of all wine sold in supermarkets is in bag-in-box form.

If you have never heard of Bag-In-Box (or BIB), chances are you have already come across it. It is a cardboard package with an inner pocket containing the wine and a plastic tap to serve it. The packaging is highly technical because everything is done to prevent oxygen from passing through. The first use for wine goes back to 1965 (Angove vineyard, Australia).

credits: Shutterstock

What is the outlook for wine sales in 2021-2022?

The year 2021 should be as unique as 2020. Indeed, with the population’s vaccination and the reopening of restaurants and bars, we can expect a sharp increase in wine sales. The effect will be threefold if the population is vaccinated by the summer of 2021:

  • mechanical increase due to the reopening of places where wine is consumed
  • a catch-up effect due to the euphoria that will probably result from a return to an almost normal life
  • summer effect favoring the consumption of white and rosé wines

Therefore, we can expect an excellent second half of 2021, followed by a return to normal trends from 2022.

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