De Bortoli cask

How COVID-19 saved cask wine sales

August 5, 2020
By Alana House

Australians have returned to their cardboardeaux roots during COVID-19, with cask wine sales spiking during the pandemic.

According to new data from Wine Australia and IRI Market Edge, sales surged 21% in April, after lockdowns were first introduced.

Sales had grown by just 1% the previous month, and were in 5-7% decline before that.

NSW Riverina Winemakers Association president Andrew Calabria told The Area News: “Cask wines sales have increased for the first time in a long time. A lot of consumers have gone back to trusted brands.”

He added that customers were also choosing wines based on value, with value being about much more than just cost – it could include the wine’s quality, winery ownership or sustainability credentials.

Nick Waterman, president of the South Australian Wine Industry Association and managing director at Yalumba, told InDaily: “One two-litre cask product – Winesmiths – saw a huge spike in sales in the short term. It was thought that was just something because of lockdown, but it’s continued.”

The Winesmiths

“If you can’t go and repeat shop, and you’re restricted in terms of how many times you can go and visit a shop, you know you can open a two-litre cask and it’ll last for a week or more,” he explained to The Guardian.

“The consumer’s obviously discovering the value that cask wines do offer, and is surprised at the quality of the cask wines,” Darren De Bortoli, managing director of De Bortoli Wines, told Guardian Australia.

Even people who are “very much wine aficionados” are drinking cask wine, De Bortoli said.

“Look, I’m a winemaker and I’ve got a cask, I’ll grab an occasional glass,” he said. “I can understand that.”

Andrew Clarke, Regional Managing Director ANZP at Accolade Wines also noted to Drinks Guide that there had been a surge in cask demand: “For off-premise customers, we made sure that we increased production safety stocks to cater for the increased demand in cask and sub-$10 wines in glass during this time.”

Shoppers around the globe embrace cask wine

In the UK, sales of bag-in-box wines at Sainsbury’s jumped by 41% year-on-year for the lockdown period, with the retailer noting that 28% of those buying them were aged between 25 and 34 years old.

In the US, Nielsen found “enormous” growth in three-litre cask wine sales, with sales up 82% in mid-April.

In Canada, The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Canada, reported that cask wine sales were up 77% in March 2020 versus 2019 (that equates to 47,000 more boxes sold in a month).

Even France has seen a 43% increase in goon sales during lockdown, according to Nielsen data.

Eric Lanxade, sales director for bulk wine producer Caves et Vignobles du Gers in South-West France, told Vitisphere that COVID-19 “will cause a sea-change in people’s spontaneity towards others and sharing a glass of wine”.

He noted that “a bottle goes from one table to the next, from one hand to another and could be a vector of the virus” but a big box of wine would solve that problem.

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