Allegrini 2024

Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg, in 2023 -10% sales, but +4.7% value

Export at -6% in volume, wine tourism at +16%. In 2022 over 100 million bottles sold for 607 million euros, with Uk still first market
Wine tourism in the Hills of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Docg (ph: Beatrice Pilotto)

After an exceptional 2022, 2023 for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg will close settling back to pre-pandemic values, with a 10% drop in sales and a -6% reduction in volume abroad, but with an estimated +4.7% growth in product value, despite the complexity of the vintage. These are the forecasts of the “Economic Report” 2023 of the Consorzio di Tutela del Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Docg, edited by Cirve of the University of Padua and Professor Eugenio Pomarici’s team, which confirm the health of a structured Denomination. For which, the reduction in volumes sold in 2023 is the result of different behaviors observed in the various distribution channels. First of all, we analyze the Italian market for which we show that the restaurant industry, supported mainly by the growth in the flow of foreign tourists, is maintaining volumes, while there is a decrease in large-scale retail. The volume of sales in large-scale retail considering the period October 2022-October 2023 is, in fact, lower than those of the same period of the previous year by 6.5%, against an increase in value of 2.3%. As the months go by, however, demand in 2023 is realigning with that of the previous year, and in the July-August-September 2023 quarter, sales grew over 2022 by 3.4% in volume and 6.8% in value.
For Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg in 2022, 100,081,088 bottles of sparkling wine worth nearly 607 million euros were sold. The Italian market, which accounts for 60.2% of sales, absorbed 57 million bottles in 2022, worth 365.5 million euros. With respect to the breakdown by geographic areas, it should be noted that the Northeast still absorbs the largest share of the product with 37.3% of the volumes, followed by the Northwest with 30.7%, the Center with 22.1%, and the South and Islands close with 9.9%. As for the foreign market, still firmly in the lead is the United Kingdom, which, with a 23.1% (value share) of the foreign market, confirms itself as the country that imports the most product (10.3 million bottles) and yields the most value (56 million euros). It is followed by Germany with 8.1 million bottles for 50.7 million euros in value, and Switzerland with just over 6.3 million bottles for more than 33.4 million euros.
In the production territory of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg, a Unesco World Heritage Site, tourist flows show continuous growth from 2022 to the first seven months of 2023, in particular, arrivals and presences increased by 16% and 12.2% in the period January-July 2023 over the same period 2022. International demand is growing at rates of more than +20% over 2022, while domestic demand, which had already regained ground in previous years, has maintained a more moderate pace of growth. If the dynamics observed until July are confirmed, 2023 will be the year of recovery and probably of overtaking the pre-Covid values of 2019. Returning to the 2022 data, the year on which the full analysis is available, we record that the recovery in winery attendance by wine tourism visitors continued, increasing by 7.5% over 2021. The record number in 2019 (more than 380,000) has not yet been reached, but given the industry context it is expected to be recovered in 2023. The number of visitors hosted by each winery varies according to the size of the wineries and their ability to organize reception and visit services. 45% of wineries hosted between 500 and 5,000 visitors, while another 41% hosted between 200 and 500. In contrast, 7% of businesses welcomed more than 5,000 visitors. Regarding the origin of visitors, in 2022 visitors from Veneto averaged 40% (vs. 46.1% in 2021 and 39.3% in 2019), those from the rest of Italy 33.1% (vs. 34.5% in 2021 and 31% in 2019), and foreign visitors 26.8% (vs. 19.5% in 2021 and 29.7% in 2019).
“The presentation of the “Economic Report” is an indispensable moment of reflection for our Denomination. The year we are about to close has been very complex, but to complexity and the sudden evolution of events we are now accustomed. The year 2023 will end with 10% fewer bottles sold than 2022. After a very slow start to the year, we have recovered in the last few months and today we record a decrease on 2022 settling back to pre-pandemic values. Last year in fact represented an exceptionality, and today’s data are more faithful to the real potential of the Denomination - says Elvira Bortolomiol, president of the Consortium - we note a reduction in volume sales abroad (-6%), which however corresponds to a 4.5% increase in value. This last figure reassures us and confirms that the work on product positioning continues to be successful”.
“The Denomination in 2023 has enjoyed the effects of the digital innovation processes that have accelerated strongly since the year of the pandemic. In particular, all stages of production and distribution have been updated with a decisive turn to digital”, Professor Eugenio Pomarici explains. “This path has involved the general upgrading of hardware and software equipment, and also, in particular, greater use of digitization for cellar management, customer relations (Crm) and the tracking of factor/product flows. This involved deep and complex intervention in the organization of business processes in many cases, and in 2023 it was possible to see the full manifestation of the benefits sought”.
Finally, another reason for the resilience in a year like the one that is about to end lies in the ongoing commitment to sustainability that has been driving the Denomination for several years now. To better understand how to move in this economic context, the Consortium commissioned Ipsos to conduct research on product perception, from which an increasing strength of the brand emerges. “The image profile of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg is in pole position among the different sparkling wines”, stresses Enzo Risso, Ipsos scientific director.The recent survey conducted by Ipsos on a total sample of 1,000 Italians and 500 young people shows a positive picture of the positioning of the hills’ wine. On a rating scale from 1 to 10, 70% of Italians give Conegliano Valdobbiadene an excellent rating, between 8 and 10, surpassing all other wines, including Champagne, Franciacorta and Trento Doc”.
The data on wine tourism appear even more reassuring when read in the international context that sees tourism in full recovery after 2020. In fact, 2023 can be considered the year of return to pre-pandemic tourism flow levels. Despite geopolitical uncertainties and inflationary pressures, travel remains a type of consumption that is not being given up, and the forecast for the future is positive: travelers are returning to travel and doing so by devoting themselves fully to what they most want to do and with a strong push for experiences, for example, food and wine, and sustainability. But the increasing combination by tourists of leisure and business travel is also confirmed: Euromonitor, for example, predicts that global spending by travelers combining business and leisure will more than double by 2027 compared to 2021.
In particular, there has been growing interest in food and wine tourism for some years now. This is testified by Roberta Garibaldi, professor of Tourism Management at the University of Bergamo and president of the Italian Association of Food and Wine Tourism, who states that “among European travelers, proposals related to rural landscapes and food and wine activities are the most sought after for travel in the second half of the year 2023. They are indicated by 17.4% and 16.3% of tourists from the Old Continent, or about 21.3 and 19.9 million, respectively. 6.2 million, on the other hand, who travel with food and wine as their primary motivation.
A similar scenario can be seen in our country, where in 2023 nearly 6 out of 10 Italians (about 9.6 million) took a trip with food and wine as the primary motivation; a figure that has grown by a whopping 37% points since 2016. This search for experiences does not only concern these travelers, but affects all tourists in the Belpaese: more than 70% have carried out at least five of them during their most recent trips (+25% over 2021). These trends are also reflected on specific tourism declinations such as wine tourism, with respect to which there is a growing focus not only on the attention to the sustainability of the wineries, but also on the social dimension with a preference for those wineries that have in place activities and projects to support the local community. The winery is also seen as the starting point for experiencing the outdoors between walking or biking tours and trekking. Immersions in nature as well as yoga and pilates classes or art or music lessons in vineyards are increasingly sought after by both experienced wine tourists and also by those who want to combine a simple interest in wine with other passions. Wineries can also become interesting and exclusive overnight solutions, think, for example, of wine glamping, as well as spaces in which to work and hold meetings and business activities in the pleasantness of rural landscapes.
From the data available up to October 2023, the Denomination emerges solid, especially in its relationship with the market. Despite this, there is an urgent need in the immediate future, to strive to implement all projects and processes aimed at value creation. It will be necessary to work to consolidate the positioning of the product on the market and in consumer perception. Without forgetting that the district nature of the Denomination will once again be a strong point to leverage as well as will help with the coordination of procurement of the main factors of production.

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