The Advance of Sustainability in Alcoholic Drinks

April 2023

Environmental concerns are gaining significance in alcoholic drinks, as a result of reputational, legal and practical considerations. Much of the industry is exposed to the impact of climate change on agricultural production, accentuating the need for change. How are companies responding, and how can sustainability enhance brand relevance?

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Sustainability climbs the agenda

Alcoholic drinks companies are placing an increasing emphasis on reducing their environmental footprints and building resilience into supply chains. Climate change, investor pressure and evolving legislation are contributing factors. Consumers are starting to expect a certain degree of action on environmental and social issues, and brands that are not making progress risk losing relevance, particularly among younger adults.

A holistic approach is needed

For meaningful progress, environmental efforts need to consider the whole value chain of products, from the cultivation of ingredients to end of life disposal of packaging. External verification of targets and transparency about progress or setbacks can work to combat increasing scepticism and build credibility.

Price remains a consumer barrier

The divergence between consumers’ stated concern for environmental issues and their willingness, or ability, to pay extra for sustainable credentials is well established. The challenge facing alcoholic drinks companies is advancing towards targets without having to raise prices significantly. Research, pilot schemes, innovative technology and knowledge-sharing will help to ensure efforts are effective and efficient.

As environmental strategies progress, so will the potential for engagement

On its own, sustainability will not become a major driver of purchasing decisions for most consumers, but many are increasingly concerned about environmental issues. Highlighting progress in a way that aligns with broader brand positioning can strengthen relationships, especially for premium brands that can build on existing communication around ingredients, locations and production techniques.

Key findings
Environmental impact is the key defining feature
Sustainability is gaining prominence, but how engaged are consumers?
Price versus progress?
Taking the value chain into account is vital
Key areas of legislation affecting alcoholic drinks
Selected environmental targets of alcoholic drinks players
Regenerative agriculture aims to build natural resilience
Organic options: On the rise, but set to remain limited
“Natural” wine: Much-needed disruption?
Wine producers are forced to adapt to the effects of climate change
Collaboration gains momentum
Packaging provides a visible demonstration of change
“Recyclable” is seen as the key feature of sustainable packaging
Packaging innovation can support modernisation in wine
Frugalpac Bottles: Differentiation through design
Waste or resource? Leftovers offer an additional revenue stream
Tequila: Sustainability as an indicator of premium credentials?
Avallen Calvados: Environmental considerations enhance brand positioning
New Belgium Brewing gambles on sustainability emphasis for Fat Tire Ale
Engagement potential will expand with progress

Alcoholic Drinks

Alcoholic drinks is the aggregation of beer, wine, spirits, cider/perry and RTDs.

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