Consorzio Collio 2024 (175x100)

In the difficult U.S. wine season, Italy relies on Vinitaly-branded promotion

Italian wine in the first 8 months 2023 marks +1.2% in on-trade. It is targeting the rich Midwestern market with the International Wine Expo in Chicag

The difficult wine season in the United States, the first country in the world in terms of both imports - with $7.3 billion in 2022 - and wine lovers, with 4.5 billion bottles uncorked, is confirmed, even when tested by actual consumption: according to the Uiv-Vinitaly Observatory, which, for the Vinitaly-International Wine Expo in Chicago, processed data on sales in the “away-from-home” (on trade), as well as in large-scale distribution and retail (off trade), in the first 8 months of 2023, the trend gap in volumes consumed marks -7.5%, the result in particular of the difficulties encountered in off-trade (-8.3%) only partially moderated by the result in restaurants and clubs (-2.1%).

From the Observatory’s analysis, based on SipSource data - which monitors more than 75% of sales in retail establishments - many differences emerge regarding U.S. consumers’ wine consumption trends. For local wines, which remain clearly in the lead with 71% of total consumption, the contraction (-8.2%) is slightly above average. They are followed at a distance by Italian wines, which account for 10.2% of total demand and 35% of imported wines: in this case, the glass is half full, if we consider that the loss does not exceed 3.2% and that in the on trade - thus, the channel with greater added value - it even marks green light (+1.2 %).

And if Chilean wines also contain the impasse at -3%, New Zealand confirms its growing popularity among U.S. wine lovers: +2% is the figure highlighted in the first 8 months, thanks above all to the exploit in the restaurant sector (+7.6%), thanks to a Sauvignon Blanc considered increasingly trendy in the U.S. white wine scene. The New Zealand buoyancy - according to the Observatory of Unione Italiana Vini (Uiv) and Vinitaly - makes Australia climb one position (-4.9%), and distances, at least in marketed quantities, the market leader in value - France - in great difficulty (-14.5%), both in the off-trade (-16.8%) and on-trade (-8.1%).

Inflation, cost of raw materials and destocking, according to the Uiv-Vinitaly Observatory, are putting a strain on Italian companies’ exports to the U.S., but segmenting the data and looking at actual consumption in volume, it emerges how, when tested by consumption, Americans are more likely to give up made in Italy wines than both star-studded wines and those from other producing countries. In particular, the Horeca channel in the first 8 months of this year saw a tricolor presence in the U.S. on-trade amounting to almost 44% of total imported wines, far higher than the share of French products, 13.8%, and New Zealand, at 10.7%. It is in this context that comes Vinitaly’s trade fair debut in the United States, the result of Veronafiere’s collaboration with Italian Expo, the Chicago and Midwest Chamber of Commerce and Ice Agenzia, in partnership with “International Wine Expo”, on stage, today, in Chicago - the center of a macro-area that brings together 70 million inhabitants and represents $200 million of Italian wine imports - with 200 Italian wine companies. “Italian wine, here, is driven by food culture, and there is no better food culture than Italian food culture, which is wonderful also thanks to Italian wine”, commented Bill Terlato, ceo Terlato (among the leading importers in the area, with a portfolio that includes brands such as Cecchi, Cusumano, Feudi San Gregorio, Nino Franco, Nonino ...).

“The teamwork, activated some time ago with the institutions, has proved us right, and we can say that we have won an important and complex challenge, to aggregate with the Vinitaly brand all the projects to create a strong promotional moment in favor of the Italian wine sector in the U.S.”, said Federico Bricolo, president Veronafiere. “Vinitaly Usa 2024 will also follow the indications of the nascent committee of importers with whom we will share strategies and common interests for the development of Italian wine. The goal is to make the relationship with the market, which expresses great attention to premium wines and at the same time is always looking for new proposals, even more profitable. And Italy with its 540 grape varieties is able to offer a unique choice in the world that can meet the needs of the horeca sector, importers and distributors”, added Veronafiere CEO Maurizio Danese. Matteo Zoppas, president of Ice Agenzia, then stressed how “trade fairs are strategic for business matching of companies, especially small and medium-sized ones. And, with Veronafiere and Vinitaly, which had already moved accurately on this market, Ice is evaluating together with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Assocamerestero, all present in Chicago, these days, the project to make Vinitaly USA 2024 the main strategic appointment for this fundamental market”.

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