Thursday, May 19, 2016

Italian Wine Lovers Going Organic: Double Digit Growth in Consumption and Production

Bio Wine producers featured at VinItalyBio; for the third year in a row, VinItaly featued a special Bio section, showcasing wines with organic vines

Italians are drinking organically grown wines in increasing numbers, according to a survey released at VinItaly Bio in April by Nomisma Wine Monitor.

And Italians are growing organically and making organic wines in growing numbers, too.

While the southern Italian regions of Sicily and Puglia experienced the most dramatic growth in organics, Tuscany also grew its organic vineyard acres rapidly, increasing organic vineyard acreage from 2011 to 2014 by 40 percent.

Speaking at VinItalyBio, Wine Monitor Nomisma representative Silvia Zucconi's presentation, prepared for FederBio, provided an in-depth overview of many aspects of the market for Italian organic wine producers and growers.

One valuable piece of information is that the market value of organically grown wine in Italy is now $228 million (or 204 Euros). One third of that is domestic sales; the other two thirds are exports, primarily to Germany and the U.S.

While Germany represents the biggest current market for Italy's organic wines, the report said that nearly a third of Italians believe the biggest growth market for organic wine exports in the future will be the U.S.

Regional Growth

The three regions responsible for the most organic growth are Sicily, Puglia and Tuscany.

Sicily is home to 38% of Italy's organic vineyards, growing 43% since 2011. It has a total of 66,977 acres of organic vines.

Second is Puglia, with 25,375 acres, or 14 percent of the country's organic vines. This southern region's organic vineyards grew 22% in the last five years.

Tuscany was not far behind with 22,395 acres of organic vines. The land of Chianti is responsible for 13 percent of Italy's organic vines, up 46 percent since 2011.

By comparison, in the U.S. CCOF, the country's largest organic certifier, reported that the U.S. has roughly 11,000+ acres of organic vineyards. Other certifiers' reports may add 3-4,000 additional acres  for a total of roughly 14-15,000 acres, less than a quarter of what is grown in Sicily alone.

The chart below shows the total organic vineyard acres in each region of Italy in 2014.

While the southern regions have been faster to embrace organic wine grape growing, high quality, higher priced wine regions like Tuscany are also increasingly going organic.

Domestic and Foreign Markets

Most of the Italian organic wine is exported - 67 percent, according to the study.

Among Italians, Zucconi reported that the number of consumers who have tried an organically grown wine has nearly doubled in the last year alone, increasing from 12 percent to 21 percent.

Millennials in Italy are the group most inclined to drink organic wines, with 27 percent reporting that they've tried organic wines. Gen Xers were second and baby boomers were third with 22 and 16 percent respectively.

Asked to describe what characteristic was most appealing in the decision to chose an organic wine, 44 percent said the fact that it was natural appealed to them. Quality was the number one reason for 17 percent of respondents.

More than 75 percent of the organic wine consumers surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for organic wines. Some were willing to pay as much as 20 percent more.

Abroad, Germans and Americans make up the two biggest export markets for organic wines from Italy. Germans consume 38 percent of the organic exports with Americans accounting for another 15 percent.


Asked which countries they expect to be the most promising new market for organically grown wines from Italy, respondents overwhelmingly chose the U.S. (31 percent) with the EU coming in second (21 percent).

To download Zucconi's entire presentation, or to see other presentations from the VinItalyBio conference, click here.

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