A wine duopoly

photo credit: hoveringdog via photopin cc

photo credit: hoveringdog via photopin cc

Phil Howard of Michigan State University explores the concentration of the US wine industry:

No other section of the supermarket offers as many choices as the wine aisle. A typical retailer is likely to have hundreds of unique wines on its shelves. Just three firms, however, account for more than half of the wine sales in the United States.

I find this really sad. I wonder how NZ compares… Anyone got the stats?

I can think of one or two industries where NZ appears to have lots of choice but actually most of the options are made by just a couple of companies, like cheese. But I’d imagine the wine is more fragmented. Hard to say though. There are certainly families of brands, like Foley Family Wines owns Vavasour, Clifford Bay Wines, and Te Kairanga brands and has just merged with the NZ Wine Company to also get the Grove Mill brand.

I imagine that most wine is bought based on the bottle. And the bottle is designed to appear to a certain need – the need to feel trendy, the need to feel classy, the need to feel like I’m the kind of person who buys local, or even the need to feel working class… So it makes sense for a producer to label their wine in different ways.

…But it would also be nice to think there’s some integrity to it. So when I choose what looks like a quirky, crafty, small winery creation, that it’s actually had someone quirky and crafty on a small winery create it!

I believe in most cases, the people who create our products have a vision and really believe in their creation. But there are certainly exceptions where the marketing was created to appeal to a need that the product has nothing to do with – see my post on Frank drinks, for example.

To get back to Phil’s analysis, the nice thing about this is the great charts he has created so we can explore the wine landscape. You can see that Chardonnay is most popular, but half the market is encompassed by just seven grape varieties. That includes both red and white wines!


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