Organic wine: the latest trend in the popular Nordic market

Market Bulletin | Issue 78

26 Sep 2017
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With less than a month until Wine Australia’s Norwegian Annual Tasting, we look at the growing popularity of organic wine in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark. 

The Nordic wine market is an attractive opportunity for many wine producers. Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark are known for their wealth, open-mindedness and high standard of living. Add that to a hearty level of wine consumption and you’ve got yourself a winning combination. The growing popularity of organic wine is now giving this region an added point of interest.

Sweden, with a population of 9.9 million, is not a large country, but they make up for it in their consumption rates. In 2016, Swedes consumed 22.8 litres per capita, or 227 million litres total, an increase of 1 per cent from the year before (Source: Euromonitor International).  Australian exports to Sweden decreased by 8 per cent in the 2016–17 financial year to a value of $21 million. The decrease in value has been concentrated in bottled wine priced between $5 and $9.99 per litre FOB, decreasing by 39 per cent to $4.8 million. However, the value of exported wines priced between $10 to $14.99 has increased by 31 per cent to $933,000. Likewise, varieties such as Riesling, Semillon and Pinot Noir are experiencing growth rates of well over 50 per cent.

As with many developed nations, in Sweden there is a trend towards things that are natural and organic. Systembolaget, the Swedish alcohol monopoly, announced in 2013 that it aims to have certified organic products be 10 per cent of its offering by 2020. It has already achieved this goal. In 2016, Systembolaget’s organic wine sales increased by 21 per cent to 40 million litres. Sweden is Australia’s number one destination for organic wine; it receives a third of the exported value.

Organic product share of total offering at Systembolaget

Source: Systembolaget

Systembolaget has a strenuous process for choosing new wines to make up its offering. For a closer look at its tender tastings, see Meininger’s Wine Business International 2016 article.

While Denmark, Norway and Finland are smaller markets, they are experiencing similar market trends as Sweden: their total wine consumption growth rates are relatively steady and organic wines are making headway. According to Euromonitor International, organic wines in Denmark are growing well, with the Irma supermarket chain reporting a 20 per cent increase in organic wine sales. There are similar movements in the Norwegian and Finnish markets, although less pronounced.

Australian wine exports to Denmark increased by 1 per cent to $23.2 million in the 2016–17 financial year, while exports to Finland increased by 7 per cent to $15.8 million. Norway experienced the biggest increase, improving by 24 per cent to $7 million. Interestingly, Australia exports more wine to Denmark than to Sweden, even though Sweden is a much bigger market.

After Sweden, Finland is the next Nordic country to receive the most organic Australian wine. In fact, the value of organic wine shipped to Finland has more than doubled in the past year to over $1 million. Norway emerged from receiving no organic exports last year to now receiving over $100,000 worth. Denmark, however, experienced a 31 per cent decrease to $70,000.

Wine Australia will be celebrating all that Australian wine has to offer with tastings in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland in early October this year.

Given the focus on organic and natural wines in these markets, Wine Australia will be hosting a master class in each city on ‘Sustainable Australia’. Presented by Wine Australia’s Global Education Manager, this will showcase not only certified organic and biodynamic wines, but also explore the impact of climate change, the adoption of alternative varieties, and the use of water and dry farming.  We will also have a focus table at the wider trade tasting showing the wines from the master class, other organic wines in the market and a range of artisanal wines. Guests will get a sneak peak into how the artisans and pioneering young guns are shaking up the Australian wine scene – from unusual grape varieties and ground-breaking methods to exciting new styles. Wines on show include Jauma, Ochoto Barrels, Eperosa, Timo Mayer and Ministry of Clouds. The sommeliers in Copenhagen in particular have embraced the natural and artisanal wine scene, influenced by the world leading restaurant Noma. And they’re not the only ones. More than 5000 people flocked to Noma’s highly anticipated Australian pop–up in Sydney last year, which had a wait list of 27,000 people.

Laura Jewell MW, Head of Market EMEA, said ‘we’re delighted to be back again in the Nordic countries this October, with even more wines, exhibitors and winemakers than last year. We hope the event demonstrates the excitement and diversity of contemporary Australian wine, and it reinforces the country’s reputation as a premium wine producer.’

More information about the Norwegian Annual Tasting (9 October 2017) is available here.