Olivier Guergo, professor of economics, director of the Centre of Excellence in food, wine and hospitality at KEDGE
Consumers have shown that they are willing to pay more for organic products grown without pesticides, even if they do not taste better.
This was not the case with organic wine. Wines with an organic label are typically sold at prices comparable to non-organic wines. This is despite growing evidence that they actually taste better.
A new study by Magali Delmas, environmental economist at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and Olivier Guergo, economist at the KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux, France, has found that experts consider organic wines to be of better quality. The difference is not just that the wines are made from organically or conventionally grown grapes.
In other words, the difference in quality is clear for wines certified by a third-party organic accreditation body, but not for those self-declared by a group supported by the French wine industry based on good faith methods.
Three respected wine guides – Gault Millau, Gilbert Gaillard and Bettan Dessot – have given wines certified by a third party an average score 6.2% higher than those certified by an industry-backed organic group. The results are based on rating data for 128,182 French wines produced between 1995 and 2015.
Biodynamic wine certified by an independent organization did even better at 11.8%. Biodynamic wines are a step forward in organic farming. They use methods where planting, pruning and harvesting coincide with the seasons and lunar cycles, and integrate animals into a more complete ecosystem.
“Organic and biodynamic wines have shown much better quality,” Mr. Delmas said. “This is another example of sustainable products adding value to consumers.”
The article, published in the journal Ecological Economics, follows a study conducted in 2016 by Delmas aind Gergaud that found similar results for California wines. In that study, critics rated organic California wines with organic labels 4.1% better than unlabeled wines – wines not certified organic or biodynamic by an independent body.
Biodynamic winery near Ukiah, California. Biodynamic farming uses methods where planting, pruning and harvesting coincide with seasonal and lunar cycles, and where animals are integrated into a more complete ecosystem.
Delmas conducted a new survey of French grape varieties to see if the world’s second-largest wine-producing country (after Italy) is up to the task. France’s winemaking tradition goes back 2,600 years, and in 2019 the country produced more than a billion gallons of wine, enough to fill Pasadena’s Rose Bowl 7.4 times.
Traditionally grown grapes use more pesticides than most other crops, Delmas said. This puts the health of farm workers, wildlife and surrounding communities at risk.
The dangers of pesticides in wine production came to light in 2014 when teachers and students at a rural school in Bordeaux were hospitalized for their exposure to toxic chemicals. Protests followed, and wine producers faced intense public pressure. Since then, French viticulture has increasingly switched to organic farming methods.
Instead of having their wines certified by third parties as organic or biodynamic, which implies inspections and audits to verify that the products meet certain criteria, some French winemakers have developed their own certification standard. In a new study, wines describing themselves as produced in good faith according to this standard were rated no differently than conventional wines.
In general, more and more French winegrowers are switching to organic or biodynamic production. Of the wines examined in the study, only 3.87% were certified organic or biodynamic by a third party between 1995 and 2000; this figure rose to 7.37% for wines produced between 2001 and 2015. According to Delmas, small wineries do not want their families and farmers to be exposed to pesticides, and large wineries are beginning to follow suit.
It’s worth spilling drinks for.
“This seems to be another step in the right direction,” Mr. Delmas said. “Not only for health and the environment, but also for the quality of the wine.”
Another obstacle, however, is getting consumers to believe that organic wines actually taste better. In his 2018 book, Green Bundle: Bridging the Market to the Planet. Delmas suggests that wine producers advertise the quality of their products, not their respect for the environment. And that they point out that organic and biodynamic practices are in fact ancient practices – an indication that the industry is so steeped in tradition – while the use of synthetic pesticides only began in the 1930s.
About Olivier Guergo:
Olivier Guergo is a professor of economics at KEDGE Business School and a researcher at the LIEPP of Sciences Po Paris. He holds a PhD from the University of Reims (2000) and an accreditation in research management from Sciences-Po Paris (2009). His research areas are cultural economics, wine economics, sports economics, prosocial behavioral economics and catering economics. He has been a visiting professor at several European (Sciences Po Paris, Université Libre de Bruxelles) and North American (NYU, UCLA, HEC Montréal) universities. He has received several honors, including the President’s Award at the 12th Conference of the International Association for the Economics of Culture (CIRA) and an honorary doctorate for his dissertation from the French Association for Economics. Olivier Guergo has published several articles on various topics in the field of applied economics, some of which have been published in international journals such as Economic Journal, Economic Inquiry, Journal of Portfolio Management, Family Business Review, “Journal of Sports Economics”, “Journal of Wine Economics”, “Journal of Cultural Economics” and have received considerable media coverage (e.g. The New York Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Financial Time, Le Monde, France 5, etc.д.). He is also a member of the editorial board of Wine Economics and of the editorial board of Forecast Markets.
About KEDGE Business School:
KEDGE Business School is a leading French business school with 4 campuses in France (Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille and Toulon), 3 campuses abroad (2 in China, Shanghai and Suzhou, and 1 in Africa in Dakar) and 3 partner campuses (Avignon, Bastia and Bayonne). The KEDGE community consists of 14,800 students (23% of whom are international students), 192 full-time professors (45% of whom are international students), 201 international university partners and 70,000 alumni worldwide. KEDGE offers a portfolio of 36 degrees in management and design for students and industry professionals. It also offers customized business training programs at the national and international level. KEDGE Business School is accredited by the AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA and is a member of the Confédération des Grandes Ecoles. It is also recognized by the French government with officially approved curricula and is certified by EESPIG. KEDGE is ranked by the Financial Times as the 34th European business school and the 41st in the world for its Executive MBA program.