Consorzio Collio 2024 (175x100)

Italian wine holds up, making 16 billion euros, but no alcohol and consumption are the big challenge

Industry numbers by Osservatorio Federvini in collaboration with Nomisma and Tradelab. In the U.S., U.K. and Germany, alcohol-free wines are growing

Meanwhile, the numbers that speak of a sector that has its own weight, specific and significant for Italy, and therefore 16 billion euros in turnover 2022 (9% of Italian food & beverage), 8 billion in exports (16% of F&B), 74,000 workers, an added value of 14.8 billion euros activating different supply chains with a multiplier effect of 4.1 for the country: for every euro of value realized by wine companies, 4 euros are obtained to the benefit of the national economy. This is the "radiography" of Italian wine according to data processed by the Federvini Observatory in collaboration with Nomisma and Tradelab, a sector that therefore proves to be strategic for the national economy, but that cannot, at the same time, allow itself to sit on its laurels, because, and this was the second key point of the meeting promoted by Federvini and staged at Vinitaly 2024, in Verona, consumption is changing driven by the new generations that are increasingly close to low/no-alcohol products, from the U.S. to Great Britain via Germany.
A sector, that of wine, which, in 2023, as can be seen from the data communicated by Emanuele Di Faustino, head of Industry, Retail and Services, Nomisma, has found in Europe its main market with a weight equal to 41% of total exports, followed by North America (28%), non-EU Europe (21%) and China, Japan and Southeast Asia (6%) where consumption, as is well known, is at a standstill. A wine supply chain capable of integrating with the territories of reference, suffice it to say that 82% of agricultural/food raw materials come from the regional market (51% for agricultural/non-food); a decidedly relevant commitment to sustainability with targeted actions by companies, but also the strong propensity to investment with 90% of companies claiming to have made them in the last three years. Not forgetting the numbers of organic, which covers 20% of the total Italian vineyard, which translated into figures means 133,140 hectares of area in 2022 (+163% over 2010).
However, the challenge, which has already opened, is that of the market that is evolving at an off-road speed: consumption, illustrated by Bruna Boroni of TradeLab, confirms the centrality of wine, or 819 million consumptions (including bubbles), 19% of total beverages (excluding water consumptions) and 33% in the alcoholic panorama. Overall, wine, “unbundled” from bubbles, in consumption touches 587 million (72%) with white at 35% (another sign of changing consumption, ed.), red at 33% and rosé at 4%. Sparkling wines rise to 233 million (28%), the trend in consumption, in the comparison between 2022 and 2023 grew by 1% but bubbles are growing at a much faster pace (+7%). A challenge, that of the out-of-home market, to be won in differentiating the marketing mix by consumption occasions and channel: here a complex puzzle appears with 36% of the consumption breakdowns being dinner, 33% lunch and 18% evening aperitifs while in terms of venue type, 32% of purchases materialize in gourmet restaurants, 22% in mid-range restaurants, 15% in daytime bars and 11% in evening bars. What has been highlighted, at this juncture, is to make innovative proposals to retain an increasingly “fickle” consumer who frequently changes consumption preferences.
And then there is what is perhaps the “big” challenge, which is the interpretation of new consumption trends, “low alcohol” in the lead: 45% of Italians, young people first and foremost, are convinced that the low alcohol phenomenon will affect beverage consumption in the coming years, 37% regarding zero alcohol beverages. In addition, 33% are interested in consuming wines with low/zero alcohol, that of the very young is the group most motivated to do so, 40% would be willing to consume it as an alternative to traditional wine.
Denis Pantini, head of Nomisma’s Agrifood & Wine Monitor focused on international markets and new trends. The “geopolitics” of wine sees Italy as the export leader in 46 countries, behind only France (51) and clearly ahead of Spain (10). But the difference, also reiterated several times in the past by authoritative voices in the sector, is remarkable if we look at the average price (9.38 euros for France against Italy’s 3.65) and the total value, which on the other side of the Alps is close to 12 billion euros and in Italy stops at 7.7 billion. Exports, both in value and volume, remained close to 2022 figures (-0.8% for both), in a year when almost all the top 15 import markets reduced their purchases from abroad. The U.S. market, among spirits, has seen wine hold steady (11%, +1%) over the past 10 years, beer increase from 81% to 70%, spirits grow from 6% to 10%, and ready-to-drinks increase from 3% to 9%. But growth is even more important among no-alcohol wines, +16% in volume and +52% in value (€44.3 million). As much as the sector is more relevant, low alcohol, on the other hand, is declining, between 2022 and 2024 there was an 18% drop in volume and 13% drop in value (€214.6 million). In Germany, where non-alcoholic wine marks +6% in volume and +17% in value, non-alcoholic sparkling wine is going strong, which is worth, March 2024 survey, 57.4 million euros; low alcohol sparkling wines sold in large-scale distribution, the trend is upward, are almost all under 7 degrees. In Uk, wine consumption, in the last ten years, has dropped by 5%, with the boom in spirits (+21%) and ready-to-drink (+26%), while no-alcohol, between 2021 and 2023 increased by 6%. Claudio Povero of Ice's London office, said that here we “confirm the trend of low and no alcohol, the latter preferred up to the age of 24”.
So, “the Italian wine sector proves to be resilient, showing resilience on the export front, despite the various critical issues that have marked the international scenario”, said Federvini President Micaela Pallini, Italy has held its own compared to other major exporting countries, France in primis. The malaise in the French wine sector, unfortunately, seems to remain, despite their great capacity to generate value: from distillation, they have moved on to measures such as grubbing-up, particularly in some production areas; differently, the Italian situation seems to remain in balance, also due to the poor harvest. However, it is necessary to work more actively on demand and in particular on promotion: it is necessary to issue as soon as possible the decree on the CMO wine promotion in third countries, introducing those improvements so long-awaited by the business system so that the measure can best deploy its effects”.
A reflection on the future of wine was also made by Ettore Nicoletto, vice president of Federvini. “There is an important commitment from the government for the sector, however, we need a joining of forces, a wine manifesto with a 10-15 year perspective. On young people’s consumption, we have little information to make “smart” decisions because there is research but we don’t know enough to come to conclusions. Maybe it is a platitude to say it but we need to put the consumer at the center, there are consumers who range across a wide spectrum of wines but without continuity. An effective tool is wine tourism and wine experience, we need to take people to other places, show them where wine is born. The theme of no alcohol is true but research needs to be done. There are timeless wines, such as Amarone and Brunello, that do not have to change, but other wines need to be made easier to win consumers, we need to have courage perhaps through wine districts and launching new vineyards. And then training is needed, the sector is in great need of it”.

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