Rosé glow spreads over wine in off-trade as sales rocket

Analysts credit pink with being major driver of 3 per cent value increase

Surging rosé sales and money-off promotions have driven an increase in off-trade wine sales, according to the latest Nielsen figures.

The light wine market climbed 3 per cent by value to £4.4 billion in the year to Feb 24, while volumes crept up 1 per cent to 830 million litres.

And the shift is largely thanks to rosé, sales of which rocketed 29 per cent to £351 million, while volumes soared by 27 per cent. Eight per cent of all wine sold in the off-trade is rosé.

Nielsen analyst Stewart Blunt said: "Rosé wines have enjoyed an exceptional rise in popularity. Even though the total wine market levelled out in 2006, rosé growth continued unabated and energetically, while the vastly bigger-selling reds and whites faltered."

Red wine sales, which account for 44 per cent of the market, were completely flat in the year to Feb 24, while white sales (48 per cent of the market) crept up 2 per cent - partly thanks to growing sales of mid-range German wine brands, according to Blunt.

He also says discounting in retailers is pushing average prices up. "Offers such as £7.99 down to £3.99 will attract people whose normal spend would be about £3.50, and then we have quite exciting offers higher up the scale, such as £11.99 down to £5.99. All these things help pull the average price up slightly."

The US is by far the biggest player in the pink market, making up 52.2 per cent of UK sales by volume. It is followed by France (13.2 per cent), Portugal (8.5 per cent), Australia (6.3 per cent) and Italy (4.8 per cent).

Blunt noted that maturing RTD drinkers have been drawn to the sweetness and lower abv of rosé and blush wines.

Former RTD drinkers have also swelled cider sales - which grew by 25 per cent to £434 million in the year to Feb 24.

Sales massively outstripped the 16 per cent volume growth as growing ranks of cider drinkers traded up to premium products. RTD sales dropped by 11 per cent.

The market in figures

Light wine £4,362m +3%

Lager £2,729m +4%

Spirits £2,666m +1%

Ale £445m +1%

Cider £434m +25%

RTDs £221m -11%

Source: Nielsen MAT to Feb 24 2007