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Zero alcohol wines and the Islamic market: what is the consumption potential?

Courtesy to Fantasia Edutainment we publish the English version of the article by our CEO Lorenzo Biscontin, published Feb 11th on Genius Loci on line magazine.

For many producers and enthusiasts, talking about 0% alcohol wine is a contradiction, if not heresy.

The market in general, however, sees it differently, considering that NO / LOW alcohol wine category is growing at double-digit rates compared to the -7% recorded by the OIV between 2008 and 2023 for “alcoholic” wines.

According to IWSR, the NOLO wine market was worth 11 billion US dollars in 2023 and is expected to double by 2032, reaching a value of 24 billion dollars.

It should be noted that this study focused on the main markets currently consuming NOLO wines: USA, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Spain, Japan, Canada, Brazil and South Africa.

These are markets that are also large consumers of alcoholic wine, demonstrating how demand currently comes from consumers who are already exposed to the wine category and its culture.

Numerous research shows that the consumption of NOLO mainly a choice of moderation rather than abstinence from alcohol. That is, those who consume NOLO wines are often also consumers of alcoholic beverages and choose alcohol-free versions in certain situations to reduce overall alcohol intake.

The wine business is essentially adopting this scenario, focusing on already wine consuming countries.

Few producers seem to pay attention to the potential that a 0% alcohol wine can have in the global market of the Islamic population.

Yet it is a market that represents 25% of the world population (over 2 billion people) who in 2021 had purchased halal food and drinks (i.e. products which accomplish to the requirements of Islamic religion) for the equivalent of over 1 trillion US dollars.

Even excluding Islamic people under 15 years of age, estimated at 34% of the total, and excluding another 50% for reasons of preferences, habits and spending capacity, there remains a potential market of over 650 million people.

Addressing the Islamic market involves first of all a technical issue: to be certified halal the alcohol content must be 0.0%. The absence of alcohol is a necessary element, but not sufficient for certification: the entire production process from grapes to bottle must comply with halal standards. For this reason, the use of dedicated production lines for halal wines compared to others is strongly recommended.

Even more important are the cultural issues.

First of all 0% alcohol wine must be seen by producers and marketers as a drink by itself, different than alcoholic wine, while with a dignity by itself. In other words, to be successful 0% alcohol wine should not be seen as the poor cousin of alcoholic wine, but as a drink capable of satisfying consumers for what it offers in terms of taste and image.

In this vision, 0% alcohol wine becomes a drink to allow everyone to experience the sensorial profiles that develop only with the fermentation of the must into wine and not only a way to allow current consumers of alcoholic wine to maintain their habits. reducing alcohol intake.

And this holds for all the current and potential consumers, Islamic or not.

An important implication of this paradigm shift is the organoleptic quality of the 0% alcohol wine offered on the market. If for consumers “forced” to drink alcohol free wine for health or not drink-and-drive reasons, a product that reminded or resembled alcoholic wine was enough, now people want a drink that satisfies the palate: good, pleasant, interesting, intriguing.

It should therefore be remembered that to obtain a good 0% alcohol wine it is necessary to start from a good alcoholic wine.

This approach gives the freedom to think outside the usual references of wine, allowing to explore new proposals in taste, packaging, image, etc… to fully seize the opportunities offered by the 0% alcohol wine category already in the current markets.

The other crucial cultural issuer when addressing the Islamic market is to know, understand and respect the set of values and beliefs of this consumers, which differ strongly from those of the countries where the wine was produced and consumed to date.

We will need to learn new languages, new communication styles and new brand proposals. Above all, it will be necessary to leave the attitude of superiority towards the market that still characterizes the wine business, attitude that is driving people away also in historic markets.

Addressing the Islamic market with 0% alcohol wine requires developing a completely new approach, a change that can help rethink the way in which alcoholic wine is also proposed (much needed strategic challenge in the current market scenario).

Most all is an opportunity that the wine industry can hardly afford to miss, facing the decrease in consumption alcoholic wine and the premium price that 0% alcohol products get compared with their alcoholic counterparts. As an example, in the United States the average price of alcohol-free spirits was $26 compared to $12 for alcoholic ones and examples of premium wines with low alcohol content are starting to appear in wine.

As for the wine, Chateu Edmus, Grand Cru Saint-Emilion, has de-alcoholized a fifth of its production and sells “Zero by Edmus” 2022 vintage at 45 euros/bottle and Château Clos de Boüard, in the nearby area of the Montagne Saint-Émilion appellation, has already sold to 50,000 bottles of his “Prince Oscar” with 0% alcohol at the price of 25 euros/bottle.

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