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Prowein 2022: wine is looking at its new competitors, “co-fermentation”, hard selzer, and more

The star in Dusseldorf is the nectar of Bacchus. But, it has competitors: young consumers that prefer other “low” and “no-alcohol” drinks

The current, main problem is managing the costs of energy, raw materials and transportation, which are skyrocketing, while the great structural challenge is managing “climate change”. However, the sign that the market is changing with the passing of generations in the Italian and global wine world is the appearance of more market competition from other alcoholic beverages. For instance, there are signs of “co-fermentation” blends, perhaps also combining wine and beer, hard seltzers (that is, simply put, slightly alcoholic, carbonated and flavored drinks), and low-content or alcohol-free products (especially beer), but also “wine”, about which there are ongoing discussions. This has been the trend at many wine events, as well as on the menus of high-level restaurants, which are more and more offering themed combinations that are no longer linked to “His Majesty”, wine. This trend has rapidly made its way to Prowein 2022 in Dusseldorf, which was held from May 15th - 17th (including the major Italian wineries, and where Italy is also the most represented country, counting over 1.400 exhibitors).
“At one time, the dividing lines of the alcoholic beverage categories were clearly defined and easily recognizable. Each producer”, emphasized the wine writers, Paula Redes Sidore and Stuart Pigott, who at Prowein successfully lead the "Trend Hour Tastings”, dedicated to market trends, “had a definite lane to stay in, a particular audience to reach and a well-defined message to convey. However, according to the IWSR (International Wine & Spirits Research) analysis of the beverage market, consumers today are more and more switching from one drink to another and trying new ones. We are now entering a new era of blurry borders”.
The “Millennials” and “Generation X” or modern consumers who prefer exploration to exclusivity are the driving force of this new trend change. And the industry is now changing its whole approach. Wine companies no longer sell products to groups of consumers, but they sell products that are adapted to particular consumption occasions”.
Therefore, “hybrid” drinks, those created by joining fermentation of grape musts and grains, as well as ciders mixed with beer or wine, or wines mixed with fruit, and also high-quality seltzers are making headway onto a market “Category”. As a matter of fact, between 2018 and 2021, it has quadrupled, and according to the “Hard Seltzer Market Size & Share” report, it is valued at almost 9 billion US dollars. Plus, the expected aggregate growth is + 22.9%, between 2022 and 2030 (while according to the IWSR, wines with low alcohol content will grow + 20% between 2021 and 2025, and “zero alcohol” wines will grow + 9% over the same period). “The map of the world of beverages”, Paula Redes Sidore and Stuart Pigott, “is undergoing an enormous revolution. There are many innovative products, which only a few years ago professionals would have totally rejected, but now are being enthusiastically welcomed by consumers. As the once clear dividing lines between wine, beer, soda and spirits are now blurring, beverage giants are moving into this new landscape and trying to capture a share of sales growth through diversification. Due to the recent rapid sociocultural changes and the growing importance of social media in shaping consumption patterns, the predictable and reliable consumer of yore no longer exists. Staying relevant requires a radical change in the way of thinking, in order to meet the consumer where they actually are, rather than where we expect them to be”.

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