Analyst Joonny Forsyth said that since 1990 consumption of sugar in Britain has increased by 31% and the average Brit consumes around 140 teaspoons of sugar per week.
He pointed to innovation in the spirits industry – where the likes of Smirnoff’s marshmallow variant and Jack Daniels Honey are driving sales – and said the wine trade is losing money by failing to keep up.
Morrisons has been ramping up its sweeter offering after its research showed 30% of consumers like sweet wine but only 10-15% of wine on shelf fits that profile, and Forsyth said retailers can drive sales by adopting a similar overhaul.
He said: “In the US sales are driven by sweeter wine. There’s a whole movement called Moscato Madness because it’s doing so well, and sweet red blends are doing very well.
“But there’s still a perception in the UK that sweeter wine is an inferior product.
“Sweeter wines appeal to younger palates more. There’s a narrow view of what’s good in the wine industry and this is putting off younger consumers and innovation.
“Sweeter tasting wine doesn’t have to be inferior. But experts with highly attuned palates find sweet wine too extreme and they write negative things about it and retailers don’t stock it enough.”
The Winery Exchange has just released a range called Patisserie, retailing at £8.99, that targets sweet-toothed consumers with wines that have aromas reminiscent of a French patisserie product.
Customer service manager Sandrine Perry said: “It’s important to listen to what the consumer wants and we are convinced this is what they are after.
“Comparing wines to desserts is what people understand and so they know what to expect. We didn’t want acidity or tannins.
“There’s a subtle sweet style that’s well-balanced. They are not traditional French wines – they are New World in style. We want wines people can understand and enjoy easily.”
Forsyth added that wine is being dragged increasingly into the health debate and smaller serves and low-calorie wines will continue to boost sales.
He said that “35% of people say not drinking too much alcoholis important for a healthy lifestyle – that’s above people saying five portions of fruit and vegetables is important”.
He believes wines pushing the lower calorie message are likely to do better than those pushing their low abv credentials, as body conscious drinkers are so concerned about their daily calorific intake.
He added that half bottles and 50cl bottles will drive sales as wine is a social drink, and this introduces portion control to consumers and offers retailers a higher margin.