Predictions: What's in store for 2018

Sparkling wine, magnums and increased interest in wines from Eastern Europe are just some of the industry’s predictions for the BWS category in 2018.

Majestic highlighted a number of trends for 2018, based on sales through its stores.

One of these is that “Prosecco isn’t going anywhere… yet”, as the retailer said it continues to see strong sales for this drink.

It adds: “However, with another difficult harvest in Northern Italy (where some yields are down as much as 30%), sparkling wine from Sicily or Central Italy will be good value alternatives to stave off price increase pains and bring some sparkle back to your wine bill”.

Similarly, Neil Anderson, marketing director at Kingsland Drinks, believes the focus on sparkling drinks will continue through 2018 as consumers continue to seek out drinks that offer refreshment.

He adds: “We’ve developed a ‘super soft fizz’ product using our proprietary carbonation line and our consumer tasting research in partnership with Wirral Sensory suggests that this will be a major area of growth for 2018.”

Majestic also highlights Magnums, which it says have seen a 378% increase in year-on-year sales of super-sized bottles under £20.

“Roses and house reds in 1.5 litre measures are proving particularly popular for weddings and parties, where a big celebration warrants big bottles.”

Richard Weaver, buying director at Majestic, says: “Magnums create brilliant centerpieces for dinner parties and events – particularly if you are cutting back on your eating-our spend.”

Other packaging formats in wine are also expected to do well.

Anderson at Kingsland says the company has already had “great success” with its Live Pouch portable wine format, which keeps wine fresh for up to four weeks once opened.

Anderson sees this trend continuing with a wave of new formats expected to hit the BWS shelves throughout 2018.

“We know that format will be a big area of innovation next year,” he says. “Single serve and ready-to-drink formats as well as pouches and bag-in-box will all feature more on shelves. Finding new ways to make wine accessible for a wider range of occasions and consumers will be key next year.”

Other predictions from Majestic include a focus on Eastern Europe, which “have been steady shops on the choppy waters of dismal European harvests and Brexit-related supply blues”.

In contrast, South America, which faced abnormal weather, resulting in low yields, may no longer be safe bets for wines at the £6 or under price point, it says.

In 2018 it also points to pale ale, brandy, which “looks set to be the next spirit to receive the ‘craft’ treatment” honey gin and sherry, as fast growing categories this year, with strong sales expected through 2018.

Anderson also points to a number of other trends, which Kingsland predicts will be big in 2018.

One of these is bulk wine, which he says will only get bigger as economic uncertainty and negative changes in the exchange rates continue to increase the costs of importing bottled wine.

He explains: “The UK bulk wine industry will become even more important and growingly embraced as a cost effective way to distribute quality wine from around the world. Critically, bulk wine importing will continue to provide the best way to give consumers what they are seeking – variety, quality and value, which is ultimately the only way to grow the category.”

Other trends include demand for healthier wine choices, for a generation he describes as “Fitbit wearing health advocates”, who have helped drive a raft of product development in healthy, refreshing soft drinks. He notes that while soft drinks are important, consumers still want to drink alcohol so lower ABV drinks will be a key area of innovation next year. 

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