As Millésime Bio kicks off in Montpellier, Drinks Retailing talks to organiser Sudvinbio chair Nicolas Richarme and Jeanne Fabre, president of Millésime Bio’s organising committee

Drinks Retailing: What macro trends have you noticed when it comes to consumer drinking habits?

Millésime Bio: In France, while the decline in wine consumption continues year-on-year, consumption of organic wine is increasing, with a turnover of EUR1.463 billion (+6.3%) in 2022.

According to a Millésime Bio Circana study, published in December 2023, there are more and more organic wine consumers – with some 39% of new consumers over the last 12 months – among them, younger and more socially diverse profiles.

According to this same study, the more consumers look for quality wine, the more they consider that this same wine must be organic.

DR: How can the trade respond to these trends?

MB: Organic wine is a part of the “consume better” trend.

The meaning of organic farming is agriculture without the use of any synthetic pesticides, which preserves biodiversity, soils, water quality and human health. Organic is also an agriculture that supports the local economy and is part of the fight against climate change. We must therefore strengthen education around organic farming, fight against the still high price prejudice and above all allow consumers to navigate their way around a wide array of different labels.

The Millésime Bio Circana study showed that organic wine buyers favour purchasing direct, and from wine merchants for the quality of the advice they offer. Large-scale distribution is only appreciated for its practicality – therefore an effort should perhaps be made when it comes to referencing organic wines in this latter type of distribution.

DR: What made you decide to have a focus on bulk wine this year?

MB: Bulk made its debut at the show in 2023. The digital session and the physical show indeed included this category for the first time, allowing buyers to identify relevant exhibitors in one click.

This year, a free tasting space is set up in the wine library and an announcement wall will present the available stocks in order to facilitate contact between bulk followers and promote new organic volumes.

DR: Organic wine always gets a lot of attention – what is exciting in beer, cider and spirits at the moment?

MB: At the show, beers, ciders and spirits are highlighted in the Organic Alcoholic Beverages area and in dedicated areas: Beer&Bio, Cider&Bio and Spirit&Bio. Masterclasses cover topics such as trends, processes and styles.

In 2022, France counted 555 organic breweries, or, 13.6% of the brands available on the market and four times more organic breweries than the average for other countries.

DR: Is organic always more sustainable? How can producers and retailers communicate the benefits of organics to shoppers?

MB: Organic means preserving the health of those who work in the vineyards, as well as preserving biodiversity, soils and water quality. It is therefore important to communicate these benefits to consumers.

It is important that consumers can understand the reality of different labels. And today, there is only one label that guarantees agriculture without synthetic products, and that is organic. A Millésime Bio x CSA study carried out in 2022 showed that the organic label is the reference label for wine consumers.

DR: Are you able to give us a taste of what the channel-by-channel organic purchasing data findings suggest when it comes to retail?

MB: The Millésime Bio Circana study showed that depending on the distribution channel, the dynamics of organic wine is disparate, with some channels in decline, such as mass distribution (-7%) or specialised organic stores (-7%), and others in growth, such as wine merchants (+8%), direct sales (+5%) or export (+2%). Organic wine buyers prefer to purchase from their wine merchant or through direct sales.

The exhibition takes place from January 29-31 at Montpellier Exhibition Centre.