The wine industry can expect the demand for wines free from animal-based products to increase as veganism becomes one of the fastest-growing consumer trends globally.
Org de Rac, the organic wine farm in the Swartland, has eschewed all animal products such as certain fining agents that have been part of the traditional wine-making process, and along with its organic status is experiencing an increase in demand due to its vegan-friendly wines.
“From the outset Org de Rac followed an organic wine strategy as it suits modern consumers and organic farming delivers the best quality wines, to our mind. But having kept a keen eye on the local and international wine market, there can be no doubting the enormous rise in veganism as a way of life – especially among the so-called millennial crowd which is an important part of the wine industry’s consumer base,” says Frank Meaker, cellar master at Org de Rac.
Traditionally, egg white and certain fish products were used in fine wines – getting rid of the cloudiness to leave a clear, polished drink.
“At Org de Rac we don’t use any of these, employing the non-animal agents that are available, such as clay-based bentonite,” says Meaker. “Being a producer of vegan wines comes at the right time for us as there is growing generation of everyday consumers avoiding animal products totally.”
There’s been a 600% increase in people identifying themselves as vegans in the US over the last three years. According to a report by research firm GlobalData, only 1% of US consumers claimed to be vegan in 2014. In 2017 that number rose to 6%.
In the UK the number vegans increased by 350% compared to a decade ago, according to research commissioned by the Vegan Society in partnership with Vegan Life magazine. Over 600 000 British people regard themselves as vegan, and the increase shows no signs of abating.
Even China is going vegan: research predicts that China’s vegan market will grow more than 17% between 2015 and 2020. And in Hong Kong, 22% of the population reports practicing some form of a plant-based diet.
Meaker says this global increase in veganism is affecting producers of food and beverages, and wine cannot be excluded as the trend rises.
Britain saw a 185% increase in vegan products launched in the UK between 2012 and 2016, and in America producers of dairy products are switching to soya and nut alternatives to meet demand. In South Africa the SA Vegan Society reports of the number of vegans doubling every two years.
“Wine hasn’t generally been identified as a non-vegan product due to the labelling laws and because people associate it with grapes,” says Meaker.
“More producers will be taking steps to ensure their wine is vegan-friendly, however, and those that already have are finding traction in the market place. Ignore the reality of veganism at your peril.”
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