By Kathy Kelley, Professor of Horticultural Marketing and Business Management and Claudia Schmidt, Assistant Professor of Marketing and Food Systems
Some pre-COVID-19 alcohol consumption trends
Before the pandemic and the shelter-in-place orders, several alcohol consumption trends were discussed widely:
- Gen Z drinking “over 20% less per capita than Millennials did at the same age” (Taylor, 2018).
- Millennials’ interest in alcoholic beverages (e.g., sprits, hard seltzers) over wine (Cerullo, 2020).
- The sober-curious movement “that is a natural outflow of plant-based eating and lifestyle diets” (Berry, 2019).
- The low- and no-alcohol movement (Neo and Lim, 2020).
You can learn about these and other wine consumption trends by reading our March 20, 2020 blog post: https://bit.ly/33AHggM
During our webinar, we asked attendees to indicate which of these trends they were familiar with or had heard about. Their responses, segmented by whether they were in the industry or just curious about wine consumption trends, are reported in the following table.
Which of the following trends have you heard about or are you familiar with? *
|Participant type||Gen Z consuming less alcohol than other generations (whey they were in their teens and early 20s)||Millennials preferring spirits over wine||The sober-curious movement||Low and no-alcohol (LNA) trend|
|Industry member (n=26)||62%||46%||69%||19%|
|Consumers/ Interested in Wine Industry (n=34)||50%||44%||65%||32%|
As you can see, most attendees were familiar with or had heard about Gen Z’s alcohol consumption, Millennials preferences, and the sober-curious movement than the low and no-alcohol trend.
How has our consumption changed since the COVID-19 outbreak?
Several sources provide data as to how much consumption has changed during the pandemic. We have highlighted a few that focus on the number of drinking occasions and consumption.
Pertaining to the amount of alcohol (all types) that U.S. consumers drank between April 18 – 25, 2020, compared to pre-COVID-19:
- Approximately half drank the same amount of alcohol,
- 27% responded that they drank more, and
- 22% responded that they drank less.
When segmented by age group:
- 33% of respondents age 35 to 54 (Older Millennials and Gen X) indicated that they drank more,
- as did 35% of those aged 21 to 34 (Gen Z and Younger Millennials; Nielsen CGA, 2020).
For wine consumption, according to a survey Wine Intelligence conducted with regular U.S. wine consumers (defined as “those who drink wine at least once a month,” Halstead, 2019), the mean number of drinking occasions has increased. In October 2019, the mean number of monthly drinking occasions was 9.3, which increased to 9.4 during the “pre-virus” period in March 2020 and then to 9.7 times per month during the March 2020 “lockdown” period (Abernathy, 2020a).
When segmented by generation, the mean number of drinking occasions during the “lockdown” period, compared to the “pre-virus” period, increased the most for Millennials from 9.1 to 10.0 (Abernathy, 2020b). The number of mean drinking occasions for all other generations, except for those in the Boomer generation, also increased.
Should it be a surprise that consumption increased due to the COVID-19 outbreak?
“When times are hard, people go back to what’s comforting or familiar — whether it’s mac and cheese or wine, beer and simple cocktails…People seek out sedatives as a way to take the edge off the panic. I’m not talking about addiction, but alcohol consumption does go up.” Julia Bainbridge, Bon Appétit, as quoted in Kendrick, 2020
It has happened in the recent past:
- 2001 recession (8-month duration): “Alcohol volume sales grew year-over-year, totaling a 4 percent increase between 2001 to 2004.”
- December 2007 to June 2009 recession: “Sales growth was somewhat flat…only because of declining beer sales” (McKirdy, 2020).
What do we expect to happen when this is “all over?”
“Younger Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to remain in their pre-COVID-19 sober-curious state…They’re the newest to alcohol to begin with, so their habits haven’t been in place as long. The newer a behavior is for someone, the more likely they will abandon it during a time of stress…In general, though, sober curious is a strong trend, and it will come back when we get past this crisis — just not right away.” Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides, as quoted in Kendrick, 2020.
We also asked the webinar attendees about their perception on when they think traffic will return to tasting rooms after they are allowed to resume normal activities. Interestingly, more than half of the consumer attendees (55 percent) believe this might happen between six months to one year. Industry members had a slightly more pessimistic view, as 41 percent responded that tasting room traffic will return to “normal” between one and two years.
How much time do you think it will take for tasting room traffic to resume to pre-COVID-19 levels after businesses are allowed to resume normal activity?
We will continue to share information about consumer wine consumption and purchasing as we progress through this pandemic period, and beyond.
Abernathy, C. 2020a. U.S. COVID-19 impact report issue #1. Wine Intelligence. Accessed May 15, 2020. https://www.wineintelligence.com/downloads/us-covid-19-impact-report-1/#tab-id-3
Abernathy, C. 2020b. US drinkers have increased wine consumption during lockdown, led by more involved drinkers, as interest in locally produced wine surges. Wine Intelligence. Accessed June 4, 2020. https://www.wineintelligence.com/press-releases/press-release-us-drinkers-have-increased-wine-consumption-during-lockdown-led-by-more-involved-drinkers-as-interest-in-locally-produced-wine-surges/
Cerullo, M. 2020. Millennials prefer drowning a hard seltzer to uncorking some wine. CBS News. Accessed May 15, 2020. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/millennials-drive-first-decrease-in-wine-consumption-in-25-years/
Halstead, L. 2019. The plural drinker. Wine Intelligence. Accessed June 4, 2020. https://www.wineintelligence.com/the-plural-drinker/
Kendrick, J. 2020. 2020 was going to be the year of the sober-curious movement. Now What? Huff Post. Accessed May 15, 2020. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/sober-curious-movement-coronavirus_l_5e95da78c5b6cc788eafe644?guccounter=1
McKirdy, T. 2020. Will the low- and no-ABV movement survive Covid-19? VinePair. Accessed May 15, 2020. https://vinepair.com/articles/coronavirus-impact-low-no-alcohol-movements/
Neo, P., and G.Y. Lim. 2020. Booze-free growth imminent: Low-to-no alcoholic beverages set to boom in APAC. Beverage Daily. Accessed March 11, 2020. https://www.beveragedaily.com/Article/2020/03/12/Booze-free-growth-imminent-Low-to-no-alcoholic-beverages-set-to-boom-in-APAC
Nielsen CGA. 2020. COVID-19 On premise impact report – Issue IV. Accessed May 15, 2020. https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4851710/Nielsen%20CGA/4.NIELSEN_CGA_ON_PREMISE_IMPACT_REPORT_4.pdf
Taylor, K. 2018. Millennials are dragging down beer sales — But Gen Z marks a ‘turning point’ that will cause an even bigger problem for the industry. Business Insider Accessed June 4, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/millennials-gen-z-drag-down-beer-sales-2018-2
by Dr. Mizuho Nita, Virginia Tech Grape Pathology Extension Specialist and Cain Hickey, Penn State Viticulture Extension Educator
On Wednesday, May 27, Dr. Mizuho Nita presented the Grape Disease Management Reminders: Bloom Through Bunch Closure webinar as part of the Penn State Wine and Grape Team’s weekly webinar series. The webinar focused on optimal grape fungal disease management practices between bloom and bunch closure.
The critical period for grape cluster fungal disease protection is between bloom and bunch closure, when grape clusters are highly susceptible to many pervasive fungal diseases. Powdery mildew, downy mildew, black rot, botrytis, ripe rot, and other fungal diseases can infect flowers and young berries. Integrated management options to optimize the control of these diseases during the early grape cluster developmental stage were covered. Please find a PDF version of Mizuho’s presentation here:
And access and follow Mizuho’s grape pathology blog here: http://grapepathology.blogspot.com.
Thanks for the presentation, Mizuho!
Michela Centinari and Cain Hickey will present the Canopy Fruit Zone Management webinar on Wednesday, June 3. This webinar will outline fruit zone management fundamentals in a humid climate and share data to help growers refine their practices. Register for this webinar here: https://bit.ly/2TruM7H.
Best wishes for dry and warm weather in the coming weeks to limit fungal disease pressure and optimize fruit set and crop potential in your vineyards!
by Molly Kelly, Enology Extension Educator
Due to shortages brought on by the coronavirus outbreak, hand sanitizers are being produced in hundreds of distilleries around the country, including Nomad Distilling Company (formerly Mountain Top Distillery) in Williamsport, PA. Owners Sarah and Frank Kudlack purchased Bastress Winery in March 2018. These Philadelphia natives have always been small business owners and investors. When her parents retired to the area in 2010
the couple would come to visit. “Living on the side of a mountain wasn’t what we saw for our future”. After the birth of their first child they started imagining what the business could be and saw the purchase as more of a possibility. “The rest is history” added Sarah. The couple decided to focus on distilled spirits and phased out the winery. Frank decided to use his knowledge of science and math to try his hand at distilling.
In March of this year, the couple was on vacation pre-COVID-19. One week later everything changed. Sara had packed some hand sanitizer and wet wipes for her young child. Since this is the distillery’s slow season, the couple began thinking about their options. “We do have alcohol” her husband noted and mentioned producing hand sanitizer. This was before liquor stores closed and prior to all of the hand sanitizer publicity. Within a few days they had ordered 8000 bottles and capsules. After reading state and federal regulations they learned that the product must be USDA/FDA certified. FDA has issued guidance for the temporary preparation of alcohol-based hand sanitizers by some companies and pharmacies during the public health emergency posed by COVID-19.
Using the World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended formulation they began producing sanitizer using out-of-pocket funds. The hand sanitizer is made with ethanol, glycerol, hydrogen peroxide and water resulting in a 99% kill rate for germs. Eventually they moved to a donation system in which larger organizations donated to cover production costs in return for sanitizer. This also allowed them to provide the product to some smaller organizations.
With liquor stores being closed at the beginning of the pandemic, sales increased but due to COVID-19 festivals have been cancelled impacting business. The distillery is currently offering curb-side pickup. The couple believes strongly in supporting local businesses which can be difficult to do in a rural area. Sarah noted that she is impressed by how people have “shown up in miraculous ways” during the pandemic. From sewing masks, delivering food to nurses and providing meal kits for children out-of-school she hopes that we do not forget the support shown and that lessons learned will carry on. “Small businesses are the foundation of our community and they deserve our support”, she said.
The couple has one additional large batch planned in this month but are waiting on capsules. The total number of bottles they produced is about 9,000 and at this point they plan on resuming production of distilled spirits. She noted that this will include shipping within PA and is working on distribution outside of PA. Some of the businesses that have benefited from the sanitizer include Walmart®, Smuckers®, UPMC and every post office within a thirty-mile radius. Additional beneficiaries include prison workers, nursing homes and hospice care. Sarah asked that we remember the efforts of small businesses and continue to support them. For more information please visit thier website at https://www.nomaddistilling.co/.
by Dr. Flor Acevedo, Assistant Professor of Entomology and Arthropod Ecology, Andy Muza, Erie County Extension Educator, and Bryan Hed, Plant Pathology Research Technologist
The Early season insect and disease management in vineyards webinar was held on Wednesday, May 13. The following is a brief recap of information that was presented in that webinar.
IPM fundamentals; phylloxera and mealybugs (Flor). This presentation describes the basis of an integrated pest management program, emphasizes the use of economic thresholds to make control decisions, stresses the importance of using diverse pest control methods to prevent insecticide resistance, and describes two early-season insects pests: Phylloxera and mealybugs. Here is the link to Flor’s presentation: Early_Season_Pest_Management_1
Early season insect management (Andy). This presentation covers nine insects that may appear in vineyards from Bud Swell – Immediate Prebloom stages with accompanying photographs of pests and injury. Also included are practices which are integral to an Integrated Insect Pest Management Program and reference sites for additional information. Here is the link to Andy’s presentation: Early Season Management of Insects in Vineyards – Webinar
Early season disease management (Bryan). This presentation delivers a review of the major diseases that affect grapes in spring and early summer, including Phomopsis cane and leaf spot, black rot, and powdery and downy mildew. The presentation will help growers to i) identify diseases in the field, ii) become familiar with the kinds of weather conditions that contribute to disease development, and iii) how to manage the major diseases during pre bloom and early post bloom stages with chemical and cultural controls. Lastly, we also present the newest chemistries available for control of the major diseases. Here is the link to Bryan’s presentation: Webinar series_Early season disease management_May 13
Dr. Mizuho Nita, Grape Pathology Extension Specialist and Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech, will present the next webinar, Grape Disease Management Reminders: Bloom Through Bunch Closure, on Wednesday May 27th. Here is a short description of the webinar: “The critical period for grape cluster fungal disease protection is between bloom and bunch closure when grape clusters are highly susceptible to many pervasive fungal diseases. Powdery mildew, downy mildew, black rot, Botrytis, ripe rot, and other fungal diseases, can infect flowers and young berries. I will cover integrated management practice options to optimize the control of these diseases during the early grape cluster developmental stage.” Here is the registration link to the webinar: https://extension.psu.edu/grape-disease-management-reminders-bloom-through-bunch-closure
Warmer temperatures have finally arrived in PA… let’s hope these weather patterns remain and we have warm and dry weather over the next several weeks. Best wishes to all!
Cain Hickey, Viticulture Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
The Penn State Wine and Grape Team held its first webinar of the “2020 weekly webinar series” on Wednesday, May 6th. Here is a link to the slides that were presented during the “Early Season Canopy Management” webinar: Early season canopy management 6 May 2020
Shoot thinning was primary topic covered throughout the webinar. Shoot thinning is best implemented between the 5″ and 18″ shoot growth stages (as soon as inflorescences can be visualized to determine fruitful vs. unfruitful shoots but before tendrils grab neighboring shoots). However, some may wish to delay shoot thinning until the threat of frost has passed or until after the extent of frost damage can be determined (as may be the case in some vineyards this year). Optimal shoot densities are generally between 4 and 6 shoots per linear foot of row, or 24 to 36 shoots per vine in vineyards with between-vine spacing of 6 feet (see below photo for an ideal shoot density). Many will be out shoot thinning their vineyards in PA in the forthcoming weeks. For more on shoot thinning, please see the above slides from the webinar or reference this publication: https://secure.caes.uga.edu/extension/publications/files/pdf/C%201152_1.PDF
Shoot positioning was a topic covered in the May 6th webinar. Shoot positioning is ideally started around bloom; shoot positioning is often needed through the pea-size berries and bunch closure growth stages. Shoot positioning is easiest before tendrils grab neighboring shoots in order to preclude shoot breakage and optimize practice efficiency. Shoot positioning improves canopy light interception and limits fruit zone congestion. While shoot positioning is important in all training systems, proper positioning is particularly critical in divided canopy systems [see below photos of well-positioned shoots in a VSP (top) and Watson (bottom) training system].
Fruit zone leaf and lateral removal was a topic also covered in the May 6th webinar. The first fruit zone leaf removal pass is best implemented between bloom and BB-size berries growth stages. Exposing grape clusters at early growth stages allows berries to acclimate to increased radiation levels from an early development stage and also aids fruit zone spray penetration during critical stages for cluster disease protection. Fruit zone leaf and lateral thinning near bunch closure and veraison stages can help manage late season bunch rots. Retaining fewer than an average of 1.5 fruit zone leaf layers can reduce Botrytis bunch rot relative to retaining an average of 3.0 fruit zone leaf layers (see figure in the above slides from the May 6th webinar). Fruit zone leaf removal is used to manipulate fruit composition (color, acidity, phenolics, aromatics) and therefore wine sensory characteristics. The Cabernet Sauvignon cluster (below), which was harvested from a highly shaded fruit zone, exemplifies how reduced airflow and radiation can result in rot and poor color development. For more on fruit zone management, see the above slides from the webinar and join our forthcoming webinar (by Dr. Michela Centinari and myself) on June 3rd.
Shoot hedging was the final topic covered in the May 6th webinar. Shoot “topping” (if shoots are vertically trained) or “skirting” (if shoots are downward trained) will generally commence near the pea-size berries stage. Vigorous vineyards will require multiple hedging passes throughout the season. The goal of shoot hedging is to manage vegetative growth to limit canopy self shading (see photos, below) and prevent shoots from being damaged by tractors and ATVs. Shoot hedging improves canopy airflow and spray penetration. Lateral shoots will need trimmed as well, particularly after breaking apical dominance in primary shoots after the first hedging pass.
Here are links to publications that outline seasonal viticulture and pest management practices based on vine phenology (growth stage): https://extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.html?number=C1151 (University of Georgia, spotted lanternfly not included); https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/ENTO/ento-339/ENTO-339.pdf (Virginia Tech, spotted lanternfly included). The intention of these publications are to inform readers about timely implementation of vineyard management practices.
Best wishes for a great start to the 2020 season!