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Italian sparkling wine in 2020 was all about production and markets trying to recover in consumption

The Wine Observatory of Unione Italiana Vini (UIV): sparkling trade around the world has lost 9%, down to 6.6 billion US dollars
Sparkling wines in 2020

On the one hand, there is Prosecco, which alone makes over half of the total, which means, over 750 million bottles, of which over 600 million are Designation of Origin, exports oriented over 70% and two thirds of the DO and Geographic Indications. On the other extreme, instead, 80% of the denominations do not exceed 2.000 hectoliters of bottled wine, totaling a quantity that represents only 1% of the total. Production is basically unbalanced on white wines, while rosés total only 4% and the numbers are even smaller for red wines, which are mostly concentrated in small areas and in “signature” denominations. And then there is the enormous variety of vines, from which, in addition to Glera, the basis of Proseccos, and International varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Nero, the overwhelming majority of the classic method is produced. The principal players are native vines like Lambruschi, Trebbiani, Moscati, Falanghine, Grechetti, Malvasie, Grillo, Nero d’Avola, Negroamaro and Vermentini, which narrate how the sparkling wine race, driven by Prosecco’s worldwide success, now involves the entire Italian peninsula. This is the picture of Italian sparkling wine, as depicted by the Wine Observatory of the Italian wines union, Unione Italiana Vini (UIV) and published in the journal, “Corriere Vinicolo”. “In 2020”, stated the article in “Il Corriere Vinicolo”, “world trade in sparkling wines registered a severe setback. Values ​​of imported wines fell 9%, to 6.6 billion dollars, while volumes fell 5% to just over 8.3 million hectoliters. It was even worse than in 2009, the year of the big financial bubble that caused world trade in bubbles to tumble down -30%, to 4 billion dollars. And, it was also even worse than 2015, when sparkling wines lost -10% compared to the previous year, following the collapse of some of the major import markets like the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Belgium. In each of these scenarios, the market has shown that it knows how to restart, even though in 2009 Prosecco was still emerging on the International markets. However, it was precisely Prosecco’s boom in sales that established its unstoppable growth up until 2014, with the record-breaking amount of 6 billion US dollars in value. The post-2015 restart was linked to Prosecco as well, as imports in the UK and the USA brought the total value of exchanges to more than 7 billion US dollars for two consecutive years, 2018 and 2019.
The Wine Observatory of Unione Italiana Vini (UIV) analysis continued, revealing that last year’s decline showed several differences. For instance, it is true that Covid-19 negatively impacted the sales of Champagne on all markets; however, it is equally true that expecting to restart in the same way as in previous years can be a gamble. Looking at the cumulative growth data over the last three five-year periods, it is clear that the sparkling wine market has now found substantial stability: from +16% in the 2003/08 five-year period, it then dropped to + 9% in the following year, to stabilize at +3% during the 2015/20 period. In the next few years, there will probably be horizontal growth, or an expansion of the markets - new or unexplored - rather than further growth on the mature markets, where the big names in the sector will compete with each other for market shares, failing to continue growing.
2020 was a very critical year also for the three giants of the sparkling wine world. Considering only Prosecco, Cava and Champagne as a single product, the power expressed in bottles would be equal to 660 million, 60% of total world exports, and a value of 3.9 billion euros, or 70%. On the value side, the loss was 670 million euros, while volumes were stable (-1%), and Prosecco and Cava compensating for the -17% loss of Champagne, which obviously, remains at the top in value, at 2.5 billion euros and 64% share. Prosecco, instead, is the leader in volume, at 371 million bottles, equal to 56% of the total of the three leading denominations. Champagne is the only one that also lost in volume, while on the value side negative percentages also involved Prosecco and Cava. In terms of total exports, Prosecco closed 2020 at -3%, while the Spanish sparkling dropped -8%, and the French closed with a resounding -20%. Percentages are negative for all three of the main export markets. Prosecco lost -8% cumulatively in the UK, the USA and France, where it is growing + 5%. Cava, instead, on its first three markets (Germany, Belgium and USA) registered a loss of -16% and Champagne, -26% (USA, UK and Singapore). It should be pointed out, however, that the first three destinations for Prosecco make up 60% of the total value, against values hovering around 40% for the other two sparkling wines; therefore, the negativity expressed at the top of the pyramid causes comparatively more concerns.

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