Retailers missing £500 million sparkling wine opportunity

Independent retailers and convenience store owners are missing a “huge” opportunity to sell more sparkling wine, according to a leading supplier.

Nielsen figures show the sparkling wine category – excluding Champagne – is enjoying 10% volume growth in the UK off-trade, compared to a 3% volume decline for total alcohol sales.

But while sparkling wine is growing 11% among the major grocers, it is down 3% in the impulse channel and down 12% in independents.

Damian Clarke, managing director at Freixenet, which supplies a quarter of the cava sold in the UK, making it the market leading sparkling wine supplier, calls it a “£500 million opportunity for independent retailers”, who are urged to stock more sparkling wine and merchandise it better.

“There is a great opportunity for independent retailers to capitalise on the growth in the sparkling wine category,” he said. “It is a £500 million category (Nielsen, year to May 2013) and growing. It is a very dynamic category.”

Freixenet sold 5.4 million 9-litre cases in the past year (Nielsen, year to June 2013) and it gained a further 8.4% market share of the category, meaning it has doubled its market share in the past four years.

Within sparkling wine 46% comes from Spain – the largest proportion. Italy is growing faster due to the rise of Prosecco, but Spain is also enjoying healthy growth.

To drive further growth, Freixenet is launching two new sparkling wines called Mia that appeal to consumers with a sweet tooth.

Clarke said younger consumers do not buy sparkling wine as regularly as the average consumer so it decided to tap into the trend for sweet, fruity drinks to sell more sparkling wine among young adults.

Mia Light & Crisp Cuvee is a blend of Airen and Macabeo grapes with an 11.5% abv and “elegant aromas of pears and ripe apples”. 

Mia Sparkling Fruity & Sweet Moscato is 100% Moscatel and 7% abv, with “powerful floral aromas and hints of peach and ripe apricot”.

“The Freixenet Mia brand’s target shoppers are looking for those everyday opportunities to celebrate and enjoy some affordable indulgence amongst the busyness of life and backdrop of economic uncertainty,” said Suzanne O’Hara, Freixenet’s head of marketing.

“The introduction of relaxed and informal sparkling variants with a sweeter style to our existing collection is the logical next step for the Freixenet parent brand and an opportunity to grow the category by driving frequency of purchase amongst younger consumers.”

Mia Light & Crisp has gained a listing at Asda and both variants are available for retailers to stock now. Both have an rrp of £9.99.

The Mia collection also comprises two still wine variants: Mia Signature Blend No. 1 (red) and Mia Signature Blend No.2 (white). Both have an rrp of £8.49.

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