Sugar tax, Burgundy crop down, McLaren Vale & WET

Sweet and sour

The UK is to introduce a sugar tax in 2018, as obesity is becoming a real health issue. As good as this appears for the health of Brits it has many repercussions some of those in the on-trade.

Australia is dithering over a sugar tax. The Greens want an excise equivalent to 20 per cent of retail price levied on water-based beverages with more than 5 grams of sugar per 100ml.

The Greens base their figures on a study, co-written by the Obesity Policy Coalition and the University of Queensland’s School of Public Health. They estimate that a 20 per cent tax would save 1600 lives and put $400 million a year in government coffers.

Diageo (Australia) is ahead of the game and planning to invest $20 million on marketing a new range of lighter, lower alcohol pre-mix drinks.

A spokesman for the company said:

“The move had been a response to people making healthier decisions about how they consume alcohol.

“What Australians are drinking, where and when is changing.

“Not only are consumers drinking more moderately, they’re looking for drinks that contain less sugar and less alcohol than premix traditionally does.”

New lines that will have lower alcohol and lower sugar are:

  • Smirnoff Pure
  • Bundaberg Rum Lazy Bear
  • Pimm’s Sparkling Cup
  • Pimm’s Lemonade & Ginger Ale
  • Gordon’s Elderflower Spritz

In the US sugar tax is not well received but this year Philadelphia bucked the trend, introducing a 1.5 cent-per-ounce (2.96cl) tax on sugary and diet beverages. This will put about US97 cents ($1.29) on the price of a two-litre bottle of Coke. It is estimated that about 68 per cent of adults and 41 per cent of children are overweight or obese.

The American love of sugar can be seen in the rapid rise of the sangria category. It’s difficult to be accurate on how much sugar there is in a bottle of sangria but various web searches has suggested between 27 and 50 grams per 75cl bottle.

According to a report in Shanken News Daily, value via Nielsen channels in the 52 weeks to July 16 was up 10 per cent, and volume up 6 per cent. The leading six brands were:

  • Reál (US$6.99 per 750ml)
  • Lolailo (US$5.99 per 750ml)
  • Madria (US$4.99 per 750ml)
  • Yago (US$9 per 1.5l)
  • Yellow Tail (US$6.99 per 750ml)
  • Eppa ($13.99 per 750ml)

Little Burgundy

Burgundy has had a tough year. Hail and frost damage in April and May took its toll, with mildew following. August came good, with warm weather lasting into September. But the damage was done and some vineyards will not have any grapes to pick, or at best a vastly reduced crop.

Vintage has started, with the first chardonnay being picked for Crémant de Bourgogne in the southern Mâconnais on September 10. It’s expected picking will take longer than normal as the vineyards will be picked several times to ensure all grapes are at optimum ripeness.

At this early stage it’s predicted the crop will be down 20 to 27 per cent, the total being about 1.1 to 1.2 million hectolitres.

The UK is the second largest market for Burgundy wine in both volume and value. The key figures for 2015 were:

  • Volume: 14.9 million bottles, up 1.5 per cent on 2014
  • Value: €7 million ($172.78 million), up 3.8 per cent

By volume:

  • Still white wines:86 per cent
  • Still red/rosé wines:13 per cent
  • Crémant de Bourgogne:1 per cent

As the figures show, white wine dominates the UK market with chablis and petit chablis leading the way, followed by macon. The top-end crus account for little, but always get media attention.


In 2015 Burgundy accounted for 11 per cent of the volume of French AOC wines exported to the UK, and 11.5 per cent of the value in this category.

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