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Organic Wines — The UK Market: A Shift from ‘niche market’ to ‘mainstream’ Position?

Liz Sharples (Senior Lecturer, School of Leisure and Food Management, Sheffield Hallam University, City Campus, Howard Street, Sheffield S1 1WB)

International Journal of Wine Marketing

ISSN: 0954-7541

Article publication date: 1 January 2000



This paper examines the development of a small, yet highly significant section of the UK wine market with the arrival of a limited range of organically produced wines on to our mainstream supermarket shelves and highstreet restaurant wine lists. Until recently, UK demand for all organic produce was relatively small, the total size of the UK retail organic market during 1993/1994 being only £105 million (Soil Association Certification Ltd., 2000). The last five years has seen a period of rapid growth, with the same report predicting that the 1999/2000 total sales figure will have increased to £546 million (Soil Association Certification Ltd., 2000). Organic wine still features as a small category within the complete organic picture but experts indicate that the UK market is in a period of significant growth with estimated sales of approximately £7–8 million per annum (Gardener, 2000). The nature of consumers and suppliers involved with the organic food market also appears to be changing. Multinationals have entered the market alongside whole‐food independents, (Blythman, 2000) and the market is seemingly no longer limited to the ‘select few’ of the population willing to seek out and pay the price for a premium product. A recent report suggested that as many as one third of the UK population now buy organic produce of one category or another (Soil Association, 1999). The organic market has apparently ‘come of age’ and as the debate of ‘natural is better’ takes hold, fuelled by continual media coverage, in both the broad‐sheet (Slater, 1998; Dimbleby, 1999) and popular press (Organic Living, 2000). It will be interesting to observe the hospitality industry's response in attempting to keep pace with this developing market.



Sharples, L. (2000), "Organic Wines — The UK Market: A Shift from ‘niche market’ to ‘mainstream’ Position?", International Journal of Wine Marketing, Vol. 12 No. 1, pp. 30-41.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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