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Supermarket fizz soars – but still wine sales plummet

UK supermarket sales of sparkling wines continued to soar in 2016 – but sales of still wine fell by £82 million, the latest figures from Nielsen have shown.

Analysis of Nielsen Epos data showed sparkling wine became the third fastest growing product in the supermarkets in 2016, with sales growing by £101.9m, up 15.5% on the same period last year. Total sparkling wine spend hit £757.6m. It was one of only three categories that topped the £100m mark, behind fresh veg and free-from.

Overall, alcoholic drinks categories, including sparkling wine, accounted for four of the 10 fastest growing categories in UK supermarkets. Spirits also saw growth, albeit more muted, rising 1.3% or £51.8m over the year, making it the seventh fastest growing category with an overall value of £4 billion. Spirits ranked one place ahead of lager, which saw sales grow by £41.6m, up 1.4% to £3.1bn, with stout and ale ranking ninth with sales rising by £32.6m, a 5.1% increase, to £674.7m.

Still wine failed to make the top 10, with sales at UK supermarkets falling by £82m in 2016, a decline of 1.5% on last year. This made the still wine category the 6th biggest faller at the supermarkets out of 116 categories. The fall in still wine sales was attributed to a number of factors, including new pricing strategies, promotional activity, competition from other categories and the rise of the discounters, analysts pointed out.

“EDLP (every day low pricing) is also the watchword in wine,” Nielsen analyst Michael Sills explained. “Promotional volume is down 5.4%, reflected across both brands and own-label, down 6.2% and 2.6%. The biggest change has been in the non-promotional price per unit for brands, down 7p.”

Nielsen data showed the average price was down for all but one of the top 10 still wine brands (Campo Viejo), which it said was driven by two factors: stiffening competition with own-label brands and the rises of the discounters. Nielsen uses Epos data from the major UK supermarkets, including food and drinks sales from Marks & Spencer, but excluding discounters Aldi and Lidl.

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