Virgin Wines has revealed that its vegan sales increased from just over 1.1 million to more than 1.7 million bottles between 2019 and 2021.
The growth of 51 percent comes as Virgin Wines added a further 100 varieties of cruelty-free wine in 2020, bringing its tally to more than 400.
Looking to understand its consumers’ preferences, the brand carried out a survey in the same year. Collated data revealed that 36 percent of its customers actively sought out vegan options.
Key motivations for consumers were animal welfare and environmental awareness.
“It’s not surprising to see such a rise in vegan wine sales,” Sophie Lord, head of buying at Virgin Wines, said in a statement.
She continued: “Over the last decade, far more alternative wine fining methods have been found, allowing winemakers to move away from the traditional methods that are unsuitable for vegans.”
Why isn’t all wine suitable for plant-based people?
Grapes are one component of wine, but filtration processes allow non-vegan elements to enter the process.
Common wine fining agents include casein, gelatin, isinglass, and egg whites. They remove bad flavors and smells from finished drinks.
For example, casein, the protein found in cow’s milk, helps to reduce bitterness, as does gelatin. Isinglass, derived from fish swim bladders, helps to clarify wine.
None are considered essential, as vegan alternatives exist, including pea gelatine and silica clay. Many organic wine producers chose to negate the fining process altogether, making plenty of varieties accidentally suitable for plant-based eaters.
Raising a glass for the rise in vegan wine demand
In 2019, Harpers estimated the vegan wine market to have reached a value of £1.5 billion, with scope to grow further. And retailers appear to be listening.
Virgin Wines stocks more than 600 varieties of wine, around two-thirds of which are suitable for vegans.
Marks and Spencer also sought to capitalize on the trend by launching Found, its own animal derivative-free wine range. Last year, it also pledged to turn all of its wines vegan.
British retailer SPAR beat M&S to it, however. In January this year, it announced it had turned its entire wine selection vegan.