Would You Be Willing to Pay More for Organic Wine?

If organic wine was on the menu, would you pay more for it compared to its conventional counterparts? According to a new UF/IFAS study, the answer is no.

For the study, which was recently published in the journal Food Policy, former UF/IFAS graduate student Lane Abraben, used an economic model to determine consumer spending preferences when it comes organic wine. He specifically examined wine consumed from the Tuscany region of Italy. His adviser, Kelly Grogan, a UF/IFAS Assistant Professor of food and resource economics, said the research findings likely apply to any organically produced wine.

According to Grogan, one of the first finding was about 16% of wine consumers do purchase organic wine.

To crunch the data, UF/IFAS researchers collected prices paid for different bottles of wine through online retailers. They also compared various wine characteristics to get the price effect of organic certification and labeling, according to Grogan.

UF/IFAS researchers used a data set with 444 premium red wines from 50 wineries in the Tuscany region of Italy and sold to Italian and American consumers. They also found out which wines were organic, and they used an average rating from multiple sources to determine the wines’ quality.

Of the wines they used, about 31% are organic; about 42% of those are certified as organic, and of the certified organic wines, about 24% are labeled as organic.

Either way, results from the study showed consumers are not willing to pay more for wine labeled as organic.

FYI: From 1999 to 2011, global agricultural land devoted to certified organic production increased from 27 million acres to 91 million acres. And, the market for organic products has increased from $15.2 billion to $59 billion, according to a 2013 report from an international organics group.

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5 comments on “Would You Be Willing to Pay More for Organic Wine?

  1. That’s very interesting and it’s both reassuring and worrying at the same time. Reassuring because, contrary to popular misconception, organic production is not necessarily kinder to the environment and it would be nice to think that consumers had thought the issues through and come to the conclusion that, if they value the environment, buying organic wines in preference to those made with traditional means is not always the best choice.

    On the other hand it’s worrying because I suspect that most consumers have no in-depth knowledge of the pros and cons of organic production and so, despite the best efforts of wine makers to differentiate themselves in one way or another, they (the consumers) make their choices based primarily on (usually low) price

  2. Organic farming of grapes involves using more toxic pesticides and a higher frequency of pesticide application and higher fossil fuel use and increased climate damaging tillage.

  3. Organic farming in general, and organic viticulture in particular, has many environmental benefits. Fertility management that relies on cover crops, green manures and animal manure eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers, which are derived from burning fossil fuels, pollute our waterways and off-gas nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas almost 300 times more “effective” in trapping heat than CO2. Plants grown in the soils rich in organic matter and teeming with micro-organisms produce more highly nutritious food. The comments above dismiss the dangers of synthetic pesticides, but the health risks of herbicides like Round-Up are becoming more obvious all the time, leading to stricter controls and labelling all through the world. The bio-concentration of DDT proved disastrous for wild-life, and although modern insecticides have shorter half-lives, they still carry health risks. Systemic fungicides routinely turn up in finished wine, and are suspected endocrine disruptors. Sulphur is used by all farmers, organic and those dependent on synthetics. Copper sulphate as used in organics can accumulate in soils, but responsible growers limit its use. Also, soils with active micro-biology are able to break down the copper sulphate that is applied.
    I choose and pay a premium for organic wines to create safer working conditions in the vineyards, to protect wildlife habitat, and because the living soils encouraged by organic methods produce lively, distinctive wines with a sense of place.

  4. I used to be a wine buyer for a whole foods in NorCal wine country and can emphatically tell you that NO wine that was labeled organic sold for more than $15 a bottle (and this was a store that would sell through$100 cabs).

    We had an entire “organic” section, but the same people who would happily spend $12 on frozen organic doggy biscuits would absolutely HOWL at me about being robbed when it came to any wine priced above $7.99 a bottle.

    Given the demographics of my customers at the time (the locals, not the tourists), my guess is that they were used to drinking jugs of strawberry wine back in the 60s and never developed a taste for higher quality wine, all while insuring that the politics of organic purchases were maintained to help them hold onto that concept of “sticking it to the man”.

    I since worked as a sales rep for a portfolio of about 100 wineries and many of them practiced organic farming, but NONE of them labeled their wines as such for this very reason… It’s not that people don’t want to pay more for organic… It’s that they actually expect to pay less!!!

    Craziest damned thing I’ve ever seen in this industry.

  5. I subscribe to a wine club (Plonk Wine Club) that only sells organic/biodynamic wines since I am concerned about all the pesticides used in conventional farming. Just the cancer causing Roundup that is sprayed under all the vines to keep the weeds down is bad enough. Then on top of this are added all the dozens of toxic chemicals. True there are many varieties of grapes that just cannot be grown without lots of pesticides – they are too disease ridden otherwise. Organic growers rely on the more disease-resistant varieties (‘cultivars’) of grapes. While that limits selection – I am fine with that and have more than enough to choose from. While organic farming requires more thought and planning, the reduced cost of pesticide use perhaps explains why the cost is about the same. I grow many disease-resistant grape cultivars in my own backyard and use no sprays whatsoever. These grapes I use for fresh eating, freezing, jams, juice and wine. There is not enough to make much wine, so I subscribe to that organic/biodynamic wine club.

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