As with any other industry, the Italian wine and food sectors are influenced by trends in the market. Over time, consumers’ desires change, which has a direct impact on what producers offer to them. A company that fails to keep up with the changing tastes of its customers will inevitably get left behind by the companies that are able to adapt to the new direction a market is heading in.
Even when the consequences are not quite this severe, there are still benefits to keeping up with the latest industry trends. In many cases, these trends indicate new product lines that a company can move into, thus providing it with an opportunity to generate more revenue. Furthermore, adapting to a trend early on can help a producer establish a foothold in a niche before it becomes mainstream, thus making itself a leading brand even as competition intensifies.
Why are we telling you all of this?
We believe it’s important for the Italian wine and food industries to stay abreast of the most current trends to ensure they maintain their positions at the top of the mountain in their respective fields. And with that in mind, we’ve compiled a short list of wine and food trends that are likely to affect the industry in 2021 and beyond.
Trend #1 – The Movement Towards Natural Wines and Foods
We’ve spoken about the trend towards natural wines, be they organic or sulphite-free, in the past. And it appears that this trend looks set to continue through 2021 and beyond.
According to Market Data Forecast, the size of the organic wine market stood at $7.46 billion in 2019. Furthermore, it predicts that the growth of this market will be so rapid that revenue generated will rise to $16.65 billion by the end of 2026, which amounts to approximately 10% growth per year in the five years between now and 2026.
We see similar trends in the organic food sectors, with a growing push towards natural foods leading to larger sections in supermarkets dedicated to them. In fact, the organic label has become something of a byword for healthier foods in recent years, which only strengthens to trend towards them.
We see this as being a long-term trend that will continue for many years to come. As consumers become more conscious about what they consume, the pressure will be on wine and food producers to lean towards more natural products to satiate a developing market. In fact, we’ve already seen the Italian wine industry making some headway in this area, with many producers now focusing on more sustainable farming methods while others make strong names for themselves servicing the organic niche.
Now, we don’t see all-natural wines and foods overtaking their “unnatural” counterparts any time soon. But there’s no denying that there’s a continually rising trend towards natural products that may eventually influence the Italian wine and food industry into taking deeper action.
Trend #2 – Low Alcohol Wines
For years, the alcohol content of a wine has been one of the key signifiers of its quality. However, it appears that younger consumers are actively seeking out low-alcohol, or even no-alcohol, variants.
Again, we believe that an increasing focus on healthy eating has influenced this trend. And while low-alcohol wine may be a niche product at the moment, data from US supermarket chain Whole Foods shows there’s definite interest. In fact, the company named No-Proof Alcohol as its #10 trend for 2020 and we’ve only seen growing interest in this apparent novelty product ever since.
Trend #3 – More Virtual Events
Though there’s definitely some light at the end of the tunnel, there’s no denying that the pandemic has seen a number of Italian wine industry events pivot their offerings. Throughout 2020, we’ve seen many of these events switch to an online format.
This will likely continue in 2021, at least for as long as the pandemic continues to be an ongoing concern.
But the more interesting question is whether we’ll see online events in the future. We believe that it’s likely simply because such events are more accessible for a global audience and often more cost-efficient for the organisers.
This does not mean we think there will be an end to physical events any time soon. However, it’s likely that a lot of smaller events will take place online now that a global audience has been forced into a position where they must use the web to interact with the wine industry.
Trend #4 – More of a Focus on Local Foods and Wines
Market analytics firm Kantar revealed some interesting findings in one of its recent COVID-19 Barometer reports. It showed that consumers have placed an increasing focus on consuming domestic products during the pandemic, with 52% of people saying they now pay more attention to where their products come from and are thus more inclined to shop locally.
This trend may have an interesting impact on Italian wine and food. While it could lead to even higher domestic sales, it also suggests that both industries may lose some sales to local producers. Of course, this isn’t guaranteed but it will be interesting to see how this trend develops when we finally leave the pandemic situation.
Trend #5 – The Move to Convenience
People value convenience more than they ever have before with their wine and food. Now that more people have been introduced to the concept of shopping online for their products, it’s likely that online-focused retailers will see increasing returns during 2021.
However, this isn’t the only way that the desire for convenience may affect the wine and drink sectors. In recent years, we’ve seen a definite move towards “made for you” meal kit services that enable people to create quick and healthy meals, often in return for an ongoing subscription fee. Even in wine, we’ve seen the rise of canned wines as a potentially more convenient alternative to bottles, though quality issues remain in that area.
Regardless, both the wine and food industries must focus on making things as easy as possible for customers. As the desire for convenience grows, so must these industries find new ways to deliver interesting products to customers.