Friday, 23 July, 2021

The intoxicating growth of organic wine in France


Since Monday and until Wednesday February 13, almost all the wine terroirs are gathered in Paris. A first edition of Wine Paris which, thanks to the combined efforts of the two Vinisud and Vinovision fairs, welcomes some 2,000 exhibitors. This brand new high mass for wine professionals was an opportunity for the director of the Agence bio to take stock of a particularly dynamic sector in France: organic wine.

And indeed, the French organic vineyard does not stop expanding. In ten years, it has more than tripled. In 2017, therefore 78,502 hectares of vines are already certified organic or are in conversion – even 10% of the national vineyard – against 22,509 hectares in 2007. And if after a very strong take-off, the movement seemed to slow down from 2011 , it seems well and truly back since 2017. The areas under conversion reached 17,549 hectares, against 12,102 the previous year. “It is one of the most dynamic organic productions and the trend will continue to be confirmed in 2018”, notes Florent Guhl, director of the Organic Agency.

Organic wine consumed in France of course… but not only. Export is particularly strong – an “exception” in French organic, notes Florent Guhl. Of the 2.71 million hectoliters put on the market, 57% are sold in France and 43% are sold abroad. As for French consumption, growth is also required. France is the second largest market in volume for still organic wine behind Germany and ahead of the United Kingdom. Households bought organic wine for 958 million euros in 2017, which is 21% more than in 2016. In 2012, the market was only 413 million euros.

Direct sales, wine merchants and specialized stores dominate

It must be said that 13% of organic wine consumers drink only this type of wine and for 41%, organic represents more than half of their wine consumption. “It’s a bit like eggs or milk. We can see in some consumers a sort of automatic purchase of this product organically”, comments Florent Guhl. What to consolidate the growth of this consumption. All the more so as the majority of purchases are made through direct sales or via wine merchants and organic stores. “The sale is done especially when there is a strong advice behind”, recalls Florent Guhl.

Growth in consumption and production: the recipe could well benefit employment. A study presented in 2017 by Inra and Montpellier SupAgro also pointed out that wine estates “certified AB have 1.5 times more labor than conventional estates, with more stable positions and higher qualifications”.

But if the outlook looks bright for the 5,835 organic wineries in France, they will still have to take into account the new limitation of copper doses desired by the European Commission. Copper, an essential protection against mildew for organic vines, could until then be used at a rate of 6 kilograms per hectare and per year, smoothed over five years. The limit is now set at 4 kilos per hectare per year, smoothed over seven years. It remains to be seen whether this could slow down the growth dynamic of organic wine in France.

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