Sparkling wine sales are driving Italian wine exports
The 51st Vinitaly show has come to a close, and the wine industry is taking a hard look at itself; what it sees is a system that is dynamic, reactive and overall, in good health, but with different issues that need to be taken on in the coming years. While the balance of exports for 2016 is positive (5.6 billion euros, with growth of 4.3% on 2015), this result is mainly due to the sparkling wine industry, which exceeded the billion-euro mark for the very first time.
“We need to support the prosecco phenomenon so that it continues, but we can’t rely on this product alone in order to improve Italian wine performance outside of Italy,” says Antonio Rallo, president of Unione italiana vini (Uiv). Data about bottled still wine is worrying. There has been a decrease of 5% in volume along with a 1% decrease in terms of value (3.6 billion euros), which Rallo says needs to motivate all producers to work together to define new promotional and communication strategies for Italian wines on international markets.
Specifically, performance could be improved in three key countries: the United States (the top destination for exports, with 1.6 billion euros in 2016 and a market share of 29%), the United Kingdom and China. In China, specifically, Italian wines rank behind French, Spanish, Chilean and Australian wines.
Taking the business international is a priority for the wine industry, along with the need for digital innovation in order to reach the Millennial target market and gain greater market share in countries like China. Some initiatives have already been launched, such as agreements with e-commerce platforms Alibaba and 1919 (a large online and offline distributor for wine & spirits in China), but, what emerged at Vinitaly is that there is still a great deal of room for improvement.
On the international front, there are certain things to be taken into consideration. On one hand, there’s the devaluation of the British pound due to the Brexit, and, on the other hand, U.S. President Donald Trump might place customs tariffs on food products imported into the U.S., and this includes wine.
However, the numbers at Vinitaly’s 2017 exhibition bode well. There were 128,000 visitors from 142 countries, with positive numbers on the previous edition. In addition, there were 30,000 “top buyers” from abroad, an increase of 8%. There were a greater number of foreign professionals as compared to 2016, coming from countries like the United States (+6%), the United Kingdom (+4%), China (+12%), Russia (+42%), Japan (+2%), northern European countries (+2%), Holland and Belgium (+6%) and Brazil (+29%).
PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE
In terms of future prospects, the “Outlook Vino 2020” study carried out by Ismea-Veronafiere paints a positive picture in terms of production levels and, most of all, exports, which should increase by 10% in 2020. According to data interpreted by the institute, worldwide growth should increase by 2.4%, and Italy obviously would be in a strategic position, showing its leadership as the top producer in the world.
“The growth of exports and the fact that we are the top producer in the world confirms the great potential of an industry that, in Italy and abroad, is synonymous with excellence and quality,” says Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina. “Ismea data highlights the work done thus far in this industry and this is why it is fundamental to continue along the path we’ve taken with targeted investments and further simplification in order to promote our businesses even more.”