The organic wine experts meet again in 2010 at the international reunion of the year from Wednesday to Saturday, 17–20 February. As at the premiere of the Wine Hall the year before, the 46,771 trade visitors at BioFach and Vivaness, the world’s leading exhibitions for organic products, natural personal care and wellness, were able to judge the high quality of the organic wines for themselves in hall 4A in 2009. 318 of the altogether 2,744 exhibitors represented the organic wine segment and presented the results of their winegrowing. The leader was Italy with 94 exhibitors, followed by Germany (81), Spain (53), France (42) and Austria (16). 2010 promises to be another good BioFach vintage.
Contrary to the fears of the organic wine sector, which looked to 2009 with rather restrained optimism at the turn of the year, the situation is better than expected: the market is fluctuating between zero and slight growth rates. For good reason, as the consumption climate is still stable. Only the catering sector is showing drops in revenue. “Consumers tend to stay at home at times of crisis, with the result that eating out-of-house is declining. Instead, the customers prefer to spend their money on products that improve the feel-good factor at home. This also includes the organic wine segment,” says Kristina Simon from Moselland-Marketing, Germany. Another reason for the positive trends for organic wine sales in Germany is the price. Cheaper wines often finish up in the shopping baskets of buyers of conventional wines, but this trend is less frequently observed for organic wines. The suppliers currently only notice a lower demand in the range from 7 to 8 EUR in the conventional retail food trade and 9 to 10 EUR in the specialist trade. In contrast, for example, sales at wine importer Peter Riegel of Orsingen in Germany are still growing in the range above 10 EUR on the one hand and there is also a growing demand for wines at around 4.99 EUR on the other.
10 % more sales expected for German organic wine
Although further forecasts for the second half of 2009 seem difficult at present, the suppliers of organic wines are agreed and expect up to 10 % more sales. “The customers are generally more willing to pay a little more for organic products than for conventional products. The past has shown that the economic situation has scarcely any impact on organic products. The initial situation for organic wines is good,” says Peter Riegel, Managing Director of the wine importer of the same name, explaining his optimism. The unusually good number of orders received in June and July 2009, which compensated for one or another weaker month, is also a good reason to be pleased, confirms importer VivoLoVin of Bremen, Germany.
Especially popular: red wine and wines with low alcohol content
The sales situation of the individual countries is clear until now: German wines are still increasing, with a trend towards wines of low alcohol content. The demand for organic wines from Spain, Italy and Austria continues to develop positively, but the sales situation for wines from France is inconsistent due to price rises. Red wine is the most popular kind of wine, with rosé also enjoying a lively demand at the moment, especially in the cheaper price range. VivoLoVin is registering a surprisingly positive increase in the widely written off returnable segment in 2009, not least due to the role played by the organic supermarkets, which are still growing in number – although more slowly. The wine cellars’ and importers’ own bottling developments in the coming months will certainly be interesting. Whereas particularly the market for German bulk wines was regarded as overheated until the end of 2008, this has changed distinctly. Not only the German association, the Bundesverband ökologischer Weinbau, Ecovin, of Oppenheim in Germany have established that prices are declining under pressure. The prices that were still appreciably above those of conventional bulk wines 2 to 3 years ago have converged in 2009. The bulk wine market in Spain is regarded as very critical, whereas France is thinking about more price rises.
Austria: clear trend to organic wines
The Austrian organic winegrowers are also more than satisfied in 2009. Not just because of the forecast 8 % more exports to Germany and the surprisingly good market situation in Japan. “Exports to Japan have developed excellently. Three firms in Japan were listed by an exporter in 2007. Through our presence at BioFach in Japan for the last three years, we also found importers for three more firms,” says Jürgen Schmücking from the association BioAustria, the Verein zur Förderung des ökologischen Landbaus, of Linz in Austria. The situation in the country itself is also positive. The association is registering constantly increasing acceptance, which it even attributes partly to the crisis. “We explain it with the return to honest, authentic products and the uninterrupted trend to enjoyment with responsibility,” thinks Jürgen Schmücking. Disregarding limited-period campaigns, the price for organic wines starts at 4.99 EUR. This should encourage more winegrowers to convert. “There will be appreciable growth in 2009 because the first growers in the conversion wave already have fully certified areas available this year. This growth is restricted by growers opting out as a result of the conditions of the 2008 vintage, but this figure is distinctly less that the growth through new firms. This ratio will increase again in 2010 and 2011,” says Jürgen Schmücking with confidence.
France: organic wine is booming
France is continuing to develop as a paradise for organic wines. After rising sales in 2008, we can now almost speak of a boom, reports Kai Schamar, partner of VivoLoVin. Although many cooperatives have meanwhile converted, there are even bottlenecks. “The prices are relatively high after two smaller harvests, but the national market is functioning well,” adds José Serrano, Purchasing and Quality Management at wine importer Peter Riegel of Orsingen, Germany.
Italy: north–south difference in demand
The situation in Italy, however, is conflicting. Things have usually been difficult this year for those selling organic wine via the catering trade, but the wine merchants are still relatively well placed. The large supply ensures steady prices and there is a bigger demand for organic in the north of Italy than in the south.
Spain: strong export business with organic wines
Although the Iberian Peninsula meanwhile has the largest organic farming area in Europe, the demand in the country itself is generally low. According to José Serrano, a good 90 % of the organically produced wines go for export. “The domestic demand has declined, the prices of both conventional and organic wines are in the dumps and particularly the cooperatives have big sales problems,” comments the expert. Spain’s organic winegrowers are therefore relying on export. Especially bulk wines are currently often offered at extremely low prices, which benefits key markets like Germany, the Benelux States and Scandinavia.