Allegrini 2018

Italian wine halting (but slowly growing) in the US and Canada. Exports to China and Japan collapse

The Observatory of Unione Italiana Vini and Vinitaly examined customs data for the first quarter of 2022. Italy is inferior to market and competitors
Overturned glasses. Photo by Alice Pasqual via Unsplash

The euphoria due to record-breaking Italian wine exports in 2021 (over 7 billion euros), as well as the excellent beginning in January 2022, (+ 22% compared to the same period in 2021, WineNews analysis of ISTAT data) was perhaps excessive. The scenario is more complicated than ever before, considering the consequences of the war, expensive raw materials and transportation on a global level, plus the new anti-Covid measures in China. The slowdown many have been expecting has arrived, especially in the “weighty” markets such as the USA and Canada as well as others, such as China and Japan. Of course, the overall figure is still positive, but Italian wine is growing much less than before, and less than its competitors. According to the Observatory of the Unione Italiana Vini (UIV), led by the newly elected Lamberto Frescobaldi, and Vinitaly (www. Osservatoriodelvino.it), which processed first quarter 2022 customs data on wine imports, of the 4 main countries, the Italian growth trend in value stopped at + 3.7%, while France almost doubled its increase, and the world average is +5.3%.
“This result comes from a big negative sign in Asia (-15.9%, against - 5.6% general average, France at - 0.6%), a subdued performance in North America (+6.9%), considering the results of competitors (+ 11.9% in France and + 10% in the world), and the lockdown regime over the same period in 2021”, a note explained. Restarting on the US market has been challenging, which recorded 11% increase in imports in the first quarter. Italy has registered +3.5% increase in value which is much lower compared to France, at + 16.3%. On the number one world market, Italy is keeping afloat with sparkling wines (+ 16.3% in value), while the growth of bottled stills has halted (-0.1%) compared to +16.5% for New Zealand, driven by Sauvignon blanc. The UIV / Vinitaly Observatory has noted that Canada's excellent performance (+ 23%) has “sweetened” the data. In Canada, Made in Italy does 3 times better than the general demand for foreign wines, and is the market leader, overcoming, in one fell swoop, the US and France. Finally, Asian markets are doing badly, also. China is again in full Covid emergency (-15.6% Italian, and -20% general imports, while Japan is not doing well at all, and has reduced Italian purchases by - 8.1%, against a general growth in demand from the Rising Sun at over 22% (France at + 23.6%). According to Unione Italiana Vini (UIV), never like now in this challenging period — marked by heavy geopolitical tensions and huge increases in the costs of raw materials and transportation — would increasing the presence of wine companies abroad be crucial. “Unfortunately”, UIV explained, “this will probably not be the case, since the sector has been forced to relinquish most of the National funds relative to the Promotion measure in non-EU countries of CMO wine, which dropped from 27 million to 9.2 million euros (as WineNews reported). And, the budget, which, from what we have learned, should — the conditional is a must — return “full” in 2022-2023, when the new CMO cycle takes effect, ed.). This is an abrupt cut, which will produce even more serious effects in terms of competitiveness abroad for the Made in Italy sector that in 2021 closed its trade balance at a profit of 6.7 billion euros. The UIV (Unione Italiana Vini) asked the Government for special attention on this issue, sharing the possibility of identifying additional resources to be allocated to promote wine companies, including ICE’s Internationalization tools”.

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