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European organic vineyards grow dynamically

by Wolfgang Römmelt (comments: 0)

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Customers were happy to spend money on good wine in 2020. © iStock / flyparade

In the Corona year 2020, sales of organic wine made big leaps. For organic viticulture, 2019 was already a record year. France continues to lead the industry.

The green wave has hit the vineyards of France. The increase in organic vineyards in 2019 was a record-breaking 23 per cent, making France the third country with more than 100,000 hectares of organic vineyards. They have overtaken Italy (plus 3 percent) and are now in second place behind Spain (plus 7 percent). In Italy, growth has stabilised at a moderate level since the jump in 2016. The growth of 14 per cent in Germany is remarkable.

This means that the 10,000 hectare mark was broken. For the first time, the organic quota in German viticulture, at 10.6 percent, is higher than that of agriculture as a whole. In Austria, too, the development is dynamic with almost ten percent growth. Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go in all countries to reach the 25 percent organic quota that the EU is aiming for in its 'Green Deal' by 2030.

High organic wine quota in France

The French organic trend is mainly driven by domestic demand. Sales of organic products grew by 13 per cent in 2019 to 11.9 billion euros. The organic quota in trade thus rose to 6.1 per cent. Per capita, this corresponds to 178 euros compared to 144 euros in Germany. The organic quota in France is astonishingly high, especially in wine consumption.

According to a study commissioned by the semi-governmental Agence Bio, 11.6 percent of the wine sold in France comes from organic cultivation. However, the same study also states that comparatively few wine consumers choose exclusively organic products, namely about one in six. This is the lowest share in all product categories.

The Corona effect

In Germany, the year 2019 had already brought a large increase in organic sales of almost ten percent. The Corona year 2020 then broke all records. Around 15 billion euros were sold. The increase compared to the previous year was 22 per cent. The Corona effect was also clearly visible in wine.

The Corona effect is confirmed by Peter Riegel, owner of the wine wholesaler of the same name on Lake Constance: "For us, Corona very quickly led to an increase in demand. The annual turnover was almost exactly 50 million euros, which is a good 20 per cent more than in the previous year". He also points out that many customers were willing to spend a little more on their wine: "We had the biggest growth in wines around ten euros EVP. Wines over 20 euros and even more so those over 30 euros also grew disproportionately. Champagne and Bordeaux were the stars." Despite this, the company managed to work in a CO2-neutral manner for the first time last year, something Peter Riegel points out with pride. "We also wanted to celebrate our 35th anniversary as a wholesaler. We will make up for it in September."

Virtual wine fair and Biofach

The Millésime Bio in Montpellier in the south of France is the largest organic wine fair in the world. This year's 29th edition was the first virtual one. According to the fair, 1,000 exhibitors met 3,000 visitors and 15,000 contacts were made. Almost half of the visitors came from abroad, especially from Germany. The organiser was very satisfied with the event and immediately announced another virtual edition.

Many suppliers had reservations in the run-up to the event. Francois Delhon, co-owner of Domaine Bassac in the Languedoc, for example: "In our industry, tasting and personal contact play a big role. But in the end it worked out well. Normally, we see all our important customers at Millésime Bio. This time, however, we had many new contacts with smaller traders.

Biofach also took place virtually a few weeks later. "We took part as an association," reports Ralph Dejas, managing director at Ecovin, "and our offers were well received.” Despite a few glitches, he was generally satisfied with the technology. "Networking worked well and our technical presentations had about 20 participants each." All in all, Dejas speaks of a good interim solution, but expects a presence fair next year.

Sebastian Beemelmans, sales manager at the Peter Riegel company, has a similar view: "The tasting comes first for the customers. As a pioneer in the organic sector, we naturally took part and made the most of what the fair had to offer. In any case, his assessment is positive: "We have learned a lot and can definitely imagine integrating virtual elements at the next presence fair. We are still looking forward to meeting our customers again in the real world.


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