> Ingredient & Nutrition Labeling is coming to beverage alcohol. The EU is refining its upcoming regulations on requirements for wine, while the TTB has announced it will be studying adoption of some kind of labeling requirements for alcohol. Before reacting or making plans, I urge producers to look at the current regulations in other categories, the likely process and credible consumer research on the subject. The Wine Market Council just published a report based on a representative, statistically significant sample of wine market consumers and it contains some surprises. Among the key findings: many consumers have an inflated idea of how many calories and how much sugar is in wine. A large minority hadn’t noticed these labels weren’t on wine, while a bit over 1/3 thought wine should carry ingredient or nutrition labeling. Many of those who look for ingredients/nutrition information on alcoholic beverages are looking more for clues on strength and flavor (such as grape types, hops used, sugar level, alcohol %) than nutrition or suspect ingredients. Some lambasted ingredients such as grape concentrate were actually seen as positives; SO2 was by far the most negatively perceived ingredient in a typical wine. For more information, visit https://winemarketcouncil.com/.
> Surprising Science: (1) cheese may not be anywhere near as bad for your diet as many suppose. (2) Some wine drinkers (and more wine-avoiders) think SO2 (sulphur dioxide) in wine is responsible for headaches, and some “natural” wine marketers are taking advantage of that to promote low/no SO2 wines. However, not only is the connection tenuous, recent research indicates that low/no SO2 usage in certain types of wine may make headaches more likely. Details here.
> The biggest issue of all - climate change - continues to loom over all of us. I’d like to correct some widely held misbeliefs about “green” wine. #1 - Several studies, sometimes with flawed methodology, have claimed there is no consumer price premium for organic or sustainable wines. Wine is unusual in that prices are not generically higher for organic products; there are conventional wines priced below and above their “green” equivalents. But yes, at least among frequent wine consumers there appears to be a price premium. We demonstrated this a few years ago, via a shopping simulation holding all wine attributes other than the "green" designation constant. #2 - Consumers don’t understand sustainability. Actually several surveys of regular wine drinkers have shown that roughly 1/3 to 2/3 can identify key attributes of sustainability from a list of winemaking practices. #3 - While organic wines, wine from organic grapes and sustainably produce wines have similar value and overlapping consumers, motivation for their purchase may differ. People purchasing organic food or drink are often concerned with health aspects of the product, while sustainability is more likely to be associated with preserving the ecosystem and fighting climate change.
> Tea, Cheese & More: consumer research, structural analyses and sensory research all show distinct parallels between a number of food and beverage categories, including cheese, beer, cider, chocolate, olive oil and wine. These are all products with a wide range of flavors and prices, that have a big, brand driven or commodified low end and a long tail in the fragmented, artisanal high end. While the details of flavor, logistics and costs differ, many of the key issues in consumer adoption and distribution strategy are similar. Last June, I gave a lecture on just this topic for a UC Davis Global Tea Initative course last year. Meanwhile, thanks to the GTI , I learned a lot about the production, distribution and sensory aspects of tea!
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