Suppliers call for low alcohol wine to be rebranded

The industry needs to overhaul its approach to low-alcohol wine to up its appeal among younger consumers and give the category a more positive image, according to leading suppliers. 

Bernard Fontannaz, director of Origin Wines, which recently launched a 4% abv wine-based drink in-keeping with its Fairtrade ethos called Keep Light and Be Fair, said: “The very idea of low alcohol means you start from a negative. You have to introduce young people who just want to have a nice, unpretentious drink, a glass to relax.

“That’s why I think wine cocktail would be a better term. We need to make it more fun. We need to think about what young people want to drink, otherwise, if we don’t talk to them in the right way, they will move out of wine.

Every consumer stat shows young people start off liking sweeter wine and then eventually they come around to the classics like Chablis.

He added that retailers needed to review where products in the category are sold.

He said: “I don’t think retailers know what to do with low alcohol, mostly because the category emerged because of the duty break.

Low alcohol wine should be positioned next to cider and it needs to be a category on its own, because it’s here to stay. It’s an opportunity and how we shape it is up to us.

PLB’s sales director John Osborne said the category had suffered because it was seen as a cash generator and not enough emphasis had been placed on the consumer.

He said: “It’s been a margin-led category with some poor quality liquids that consumers have complained about in their droves, so we’ve started a category on the wrong foot”

Peter Darbyshire, managing director at PLB, added: “Low alcohol a terrible name and we have to grow the low alcohol category. Biggest danger to the wine industry is alienating itself from young people.

“As an industry we have to stop wine being for the over 30s and think about how we can make it relevant. We are very concerned about the erosion of wine and the ageing of the consumer base.”

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