Brazilians treat themselves to wine during lockdown

As elsewhere, Brazilians are drinking wine during lockdown. But more of them are turning to WhatsApp for their supply. Felicity Carter reports.

Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash
Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

Brazilian wine drinkers are reporting that their home wine consumption skyrocketed in late April, in response to lockdowns and on-trade closures. Not only that, but informal sales channels, such as WhatsApp, have grown in importance.

The insights come from a survey of 1,000 Brazilian wine drinkers conducted between 18 and 22 April, by noted Brazilian wine writer and media personality Marcelo Copello. The survey was conducted via Copello’s extensive social networks, attracting answers from self-identified wine lovers, who were mostly between 25 and 55 years of age, and 60% male.

More than 63% of respondents said their wine consumption had increased in the previous 30 days, and nearly 25% said their consumption had risen by as much as 30%.

“What surprised me most in the survey was, first, the magnitude of the increase in consumption, then the importance of the informal sales channel, via WhatsApp, which had a 22% share,” Copello told Meininger’s.

The pandemic, as elsewhere, has upended Brazilian life. Although populist President Bolsonaro has downplayed the disease – calling it a “little flu” and firing his health minister – governors of the biggest Brazilian states have imposed shutdowns.

Copello said the on-trade is in “serious trouble” as a result. “Restaurants and bars were one of the most affected segments,” he said. “They are officially closed and can only operate in delivery or take away. Many simply closed down.” He added that restaurants are an important channel for small importers and domestic producers, who are scrambling to sell directly to consumers.

Fortunately, it seems Brazilians are not willing to give up their wine. Copello said that Brazil’s wine market has been growing in volume for the past 20 years, including in 2014, “a year in which we had negative GDP”.

Copello’s respondents are still buying in supermarkets, but they’re also flocking to online stores, and buying directly from importers and wineries through WhatsApp.

According to the just-released Wine Intelligence Brazilian Wine Landscapes Report, “spend per bottle was growing as of January 2020,” as was confidence in wine buying.

“Recent pandemic-era data suggests wine consumption has fallen overall as socialising has largely ceased, but the at-home occasion is holding up,” said the report.

As to what they’re drinking, it’s 80% red, with white representing 13.7%, sparkling 3.21% and rosé squeaking in at 2.17%, according to Copello’s survey. Wines from Chile and Portugal remain popular.

Copello’s survey is a snapshot of highly engaged wine drinkers. According to Wine Intelligence, 38m adult Brazilians are regular wine drinkers, meaning they drink wine at least once a month.

Felicity Carter




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