The Rise of “Natural” in Wine Marketing
Back in 2008, a study by Minitel found that “All Natural” was the second most frequently used claim on new American food products. A more recent study found that the term “100 Percent Natural” was consumers most popular claim to read on a food label. Marketers have figured out that “Natural” sells.
They’ve also figured it out in the wine industry
The above chart was created using ShipCompliant’s LabelVision tool that allows a comprehensive search of federally approved wine labels going back to 1995, including wording on the front and back label. I was searching for any wine label that included the words “Natural Wine”, “Natural Wines”, “Naturally Made”, “Made Naturally” and “Natural Winemaking”.
Between 1995 and 2003, not one federally approved label included these phrases. Something happened around 2008. Presumably, wine marketers figured out “natural” sells.
It should be noted that the TTB does not regulate the phrase “natural” wine. For that matter, neither do those who champion what has been called the Natural Wine Movement. In general, both food producers and wine producers want nothing to do with any sort of definition as it would curtail how they could use this very powerful, though undefined, marketing term.
That said, the Food and Drug Administration does regulate the use of the word “Natural”…kinda:
“From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”
I suspect that if we return to ShipCompliant’s LabelVision tool in three or four years, the usage of these five terms on wine labels will remain at a similar level or increase. The allure of the term “natural” for both food and wine producers is just too great, despite its meaninglessness…or perhaps because of it.