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Organic fair Millésime Bio predicts a bumper year in 2024

Millésime BIO 2024 has revealed new initiatives for its January show, with its president seeking “to turn everybody into an ambassador”.

Having surpassed pre-COVID numbers in 2023, Millésime BIO 2024 is anticipated to be its biggest year yet. The leading organic trade fair, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, expects around 11,000 visitors to attend its Montpellier show in January. Alongside a tried-and-tested formula, the 2024 edition will also launch a raft of new initiatives. It intends this year both to celebrate sustainable achievements and make international business simpler.

A new competition, titled ‘La Biodiversité, c’est mon domaine!’ will reward organic producers who promote biodiversity on their estates. The judging panel will comprise experts in the field of biodiversity, including from the French bird protection league. They will consider grassland, wooded areas and other habitats, as well as the range of crops grown on any estate, in making their decision.

Jeanne Fabre, president of Millésime BIO 2024, believes the award will put a positive spin on sustainability. Rather than a negative definition, based on banned interventions, she sees the competition as emphasising the industry’s positive impact. “We want to communicate what organic producers do every day,” she explains. “We will see the amazing creativity of the wine producers to repair and help nature.”

Another key innovation is the launch of a dedicated area for bulk wine. With options to network and taste samples, the fair will open new opportunities as organic wine meets demand on a larger scale. According to Fabre, “it’s a new step in the growth of the organic wine market.”

Bringing the whole process to one location is a key selling point for organisers. “People will be able to taste, and we will be able, as producers, to specify the quantity available and the rate of the market,” says Fabre. “We’re making the buying process easy at the fair.”

The other key announcement for the year is a zone marking the centenary of Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic farming manifesto, ‘Agriculture Course’. The area will include Demeter and Biodyvin-certified wines, whose biodynamic credentials encompass organic practice. As a nod to his homeland, there will be a special selection of Austrian examples.

Given that the first shows were a small gathering of 20 or so individuals, Millésime BIO has grown remarkably. Yet there has never been a question of giving up its independence. The organisers have always been clear that the fair must act on its own terms. As Fabre puts it, “it’s so important to have a voice that can speak loudly.” It means a fair built on the needs of producers, from detailed controls ensuring all wines are organic to a floorplan that deliberately encourages cross-pollination between different producers, regions and styles.

As for the future, Fabre knows that there is work to be done. “Organic production came from being niche to being quite trendy,” says Fabre. “The next step is being mainstream.” The fair’s own studies attest to such a progression. In 2021, they found that 29% of Europeans have adopted organic wine into their shopping habits, against 15% in 2015.

The development of Millésime BIO has consistently pushed towards the mainstream. 2024, with its programme of tastings, masterclasses and satellite events looks set to do the same. For those visiting Montpellier in January, Fabre has two overall hopes: “We want them to know that organic wine is the future. We want to turn everybody into an ambassador.”

Millésime BIO will run its digital session on 22 & 23 January 2024, with the physical fair in Montpellier from 29-31 January 2024.

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