lighter wine; lower-alcohol wine

Lower-alcohol wine boom for Woolies & Coles

October 28, 2019
By Alana House

The New Zealand Lighter Wines initiative is proving to be a hit with Australian consumers who are looking to drink lower-alcohol wine.

Both Coles and Woolworths are reporting a sales boom in the new category.

NZ Lighter wines is the product of a New Zealand research and development program led by New Zealand Winegrowers and co-funded under the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth Partnership (PGP).

The wines contain grapes that are grown in a cool, maritime climate and slow-ripened to produce full-flavoured wine with up to 30% less alcohol compared to an equivalent full-strength wine.

Lower-alcohol wine products have been judged in open class wine competitions that include full strength wines and are regularly awarded medals and trophies.

The 18 New Zealand producers in the group are aiming to have a 10% share of the global market between 2025 and 2030.

Dan Murphy’s Merchandise Manager, Fine Wine Andrew Sheddon, said: “Moderation is one of the key trends in Australia and lower alcohol offerings are growing in popularity with our customers across all categories.

“We’ve been responding to the shifting drinking habits for some time and we continue to adjust our range to accommodate more products aligned with this trend.

“Pleasingly the quality of lower alcohol wines we’re seeing has improved significantly in the last few years and, as a result, are increasingly becoming an appealing option for consumers. Dan Murphy’s welcomes the NZ Lighter wine initiative.”

He added to the Australian Financial Review that lower-alcohol wine has tapped into a gap in the Australian market.

“It’s definitely one of the next waves,” Sheddon said.

“That’s been the real shift. Historically, there has been this perception that a lower-alcohol equivalent meant lower quality.”

He said one of the bigger sellers at Dan Murphy’s in the past couple of weeks had been a Giesen Pure Light sauvignon blanc, with an alcohol content of 9.5%.

The initiative has already seen considerable growth in New Zealand and NZ Lighter Wines are now exported to the UK, Europe and North America to satisfy growing consumer demand.

NZ Lighter Wines brands available in Australia this summer include: Brancott Estate Flight, The Doctors’, Giesen Pure Light, In Session with Crafter’s Union, The People’s Sessions, Yealands Lighter and Stoneleigh Bright.

The wines are available nationally in Dan Murphy’s, BWS, First Choice, Liquorland and selected independent liquor stores from November, with The Doctors’ only available through Laithwaite’s Wine People. There are plans to distribute more lighter wines in Australia’s leading retail liquor outlets in the months ahead with tastings at major outlets.

Drinks analyst puts his money on mindful drinking for future growth

Danny Brager, Senior Vice-President, Beverage Alcohol Practice (US) told a recent Drinks Association Network Breakfast that health and wellness is the top alcohol trend drinks companies should focus on for future growth. 

Brager was guest speaker at the event, which explored key learnings the Australian drinks industry can take from liquor trends in the United States.

When asked by event host and Drinks Association Executive Director Jeff McKenzie what he’d put his last dollar on in the drinks category, Brager’s money was on “the conscientious drinker”.

Spurred by a sea of consumer change among American drinkers, the landscape of the US alcoholic beverage market continues to change at lightning speed. Competition for each beverage alcohol drinking occasion and dollar – from both within and beyond the alcoholic beverage sector – has never been more intense.

Brager said the rise of mindful drinking globally suggests that no-alcohol options will continue to grow as a consumer beverage choice during social occasions. Aside from the successful launch of Heineken Zero in 2018, there has also been an increase in non-alcoholic craft spirits. Global brands like Seedlip and local entrants such as Ecology & Co are providing consumers with more options than ever before. 

The popularity of Dry January, Dry July, low-carb beer, alcohol-free spirits and hard kombucha in Australia also suggests that ‘mindful drinking’ is the latest health-craze among Aussie consumers.

lower-alcohol wine; Danny Brager Nielsen

Brager (pictured above with Nielsen Australia’s Marcos Senine) noted that he feels it is “trend not a fad” and is a “big deal” for both the industry and consumers.

He said Nielsen data shows the main reason people are drinking less beer in the US and Australia is that they are opting for a healthier lifestyle, with 40% of US respondents flagging it.

Beverage drinkers aged 21-34 are particularly mindful, with 66% of them making an effort to reduce their overall consumption of alcohol.

“Australians are reducing the alcohol they consume with one-in-four claiming they have done so recently,” he said. “This is more pronounced for men aged over 40. When exploring the reasons behind the reduction in alcohol intake, 32%” of beer drinkers said they are opting for a healthier lifestyle.” 

As with any category or industry, Brager said the change doesn’t mean that a revenue stream has evaporated – as evidenced by the popularity of lower-alcohol wine.

“Near-beers, premium soft drinks, mocktails, low- and non-alcoholic options, kombuchas and botanical tinctures all offer a wealth of opportunity for on-premise establishments to experiment with and promote to consumers,” he added.  

However, for liquor manufacturers, bars and restaurants that don’t adapt to shifting ‘mindful drinking’ preferences, “the outlook will be far less bright”.

Click here to read what Brager had to say about the trends in wine, beer and spirits

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