The COVID-19 lockdown period encouraged more UK shoppers to experiment more when it came to their alcohol purchases, new data from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has found.
According to the WSTA's latest Market Report, which covers sales in supermarkets, pubs, bars and restaurants, ready-to-drink (RTDs) beverages, rosé and Argentinian wine all saw an uplift during 2020.
The RTD category saw a 23% year-on-year increase in 2020, to be valued at £412 million, with shoppers stocking up on canned gin and tonics as well as new products such as hard seltzers, the WSTA said. The market for RTDs is now worth almost twice what it was five years ago (£234 million).
In terms of wine, British shoppers bought more than 50 million bottles of Argentinian wine in 2020, as the category grew by 41% in supermarkets and stores. Five years ago, in 2016, UK wine drinkers bought just under seven million bottles of Argentinian wine.
Elsewhere, rosé wine, which has been in growth for the past five years, saw a significant uplift in sales in 2020, rising by 22% in volume terms, with more than 113 million bottles sold. This compares to just over 22 million bottles sold in 2016, the WSTA said.
Across the overall wine category, the WSTA noted that sales were considerably higher, with around 508 million bottles of white wine and close to 434 million bottles of red being sold through UK supermarkets.
“The latest WSTA Market Report gives us a fascinating insight into what people have been drinking at home during the pandemic," commented Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. "With pubs closed and the opportunity for fun in short supply it appears that people have been looking to break up the mundane by exploring new tastes and tipples.
“This has clearly benefited Argentinian wine makers who had been steadily gaining more UK customers in recent years but made a massive leap in sales last year. Similarly rosé has been on the up in recent years but was given an extra boost in 2020 during the lockdowns and the warm weather. Interestingly the rosé trend continued during the winter months."
The hospitality sector is opening up in the UK today (17 May), and Beale added that it would be "interesting to see" if these at-home preferences start to creep into consumers' purchasing habits when they are in bars and restaurants.