The demand for organic wine and other sustainably farmed, natural products is set to increase as a result of the current Corona crisis, with consumers becoming increasingly aware of the relationship between nutrition and health. According to Frank Meaker, cellarmaster at Org de Rac, an organic wine farm in South Africa’s Swartland wine region, it is still too early to say what the impact of this will be on local wine producers as all wine sales and exports are shut-down due to the virus.
“But we are part of an international conversation with our export markets indicating that the demand for organic wine and food going to reach new heights as a result of the way Covid-19 has changed the world and the needs of the consumer,” says Meaker. “It is pretty early in the game to predict validated organic wine trends, but as international reports show, consumers have overnight changed their eating and drinking habits with health concerns leading them to sustainable, naturally produced organic products.”
In a recent study done by London-based analysts Ecovia Intelligence, retailers across the globe are experiencing hefty sales increases for organic products, and it expects this rise in sales to continue in the coming years. Online retailers are reporting the highest sales growth. Whole Foods Market, the world’s largest natural food and wine retailer, has started limiting the number of its online grocery customers because of unprecedented demand.
In the UK, veg box specialist Abel & Cole reported a 25% increase in sales orders, whilst national rival Riverford is seeing a demand surge. Nourish Organic, an Indian online retailer, experienced a 30% sales rise last month.
On the bricks and mortar front, Ecovia Intelligence says organic and health food shops have remained open in many countries, attracting new shoppers, whilst existing customers are spending more. In France, some organic food shops are reporting sales increases of over 40% for food and wine.
COVID-19 is also shown to be raising consumer awareness of the relationship between nutrition and health. Consumers are buying more organic and healthy foods as they look to boost their personal immunity.
Writing in Forbes, Daphne Ewing-Chow said there is likely to be an increase in demand for organic food, vegan, vegetarian and other healthy foods as a result of the pandemic. The March (2020) performance of organic food companies such as Nourish Organics, which experienced an increase in sales of approximately 30 per cent and the surge in demand for organic vegetable box delivery in the United Kingdom are evidence of this trend.
According to Dr Morné Mostert, head of the Institute for Future Research at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, any crisis leads to an immediate exacerbated reaction. “9-11 is probably the best example to date,” says Mostert. “That crisis caused an immediate reaction in terms of increased safety for the air-travel industry. What Corona has done, is to very suddenly raise huge concerns about personal health among the world’s population, resulting in people revisiting their eating and drinking habits. This concern will see a growing demand for products seen as healthy, such as organic food and drink. There is thus going to be a window wherein producers of organic products can capture the interest of this experimental consumer seeking avenues whereby his or her health can be improved.
“The window does not last forever, as humans have proven to drop their initial concerns and go back to their former habits. But what is definite is the current existence of this experimental consumer looking at ways to improve health through, inter alia, organic products. And thereby a unique opportunity has opened up to garner new consumers.”
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