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Italian wine withstands challenge of “war economy” and inflation: losses limited to -3.8%

“Annual Report Valoritalia” 2022, fragmentation is strength and weakness: ensure diversity, but 130 Do turnover less than 1 million euros

If 2021 had recorded extremely positive numbers, despite major problems, data from the “Annual Report” of Valoritalia 2022, presented yesterday in Rome in the setting of Casina Valadier, marks a clear change of scenario, showing a slowdown that for the Italian wine sector is around -3.8%. Weighing on this is the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, with its corollary energy crisis, which has evidently forced a slowdown in economic flows in all sectors. “The wine sector, like any other economic sector, is suffering through a complicated five-year period, to say the least”, Francesco Liantonio, president of Valoritalia, comments to WineNews. “2019 saw a real exploit in bottled wine, with 20% growth; 2020 was the year of the pandemic which disrupted the economy, 2021 marked a small recovery, and by February 2022 the war in Ukraine brought us back into a difficult situation again, plunging the world into a war economy, amid uncertainty and speculation, scarce raw materials and inflation”.
“In May, the numbers are not exciting, with -4% of certified wine on May 2022, but it still bodes well, because the decline in other sectors is significantly worse”, resumes Valoritalia President Liantonio. "Wine is a sector of well-organized companies, critical mass and healthy appellations. Out of 218 appellations monitored by Valoritalia, the top 20 represent 83% of Italian quality wine, the top 40 93%: there is an important concentration, and only one DOC touches the one billion turnover, Prosecco, and two others are between 500 million and one billion euros, while more than 130 appellations do not reach one million. There is a need to reorganize the system, aggregating and making critical mass to make the wine sector more solid and successful”.
The research thus highlights a key fact: despite the difficulties, about one-third of the appellations among those certified by Valoritalia still recorded volume growth with the significant performance of the “Prosecco System”, formed by the Prosecco, Asolo Prosecco and Conegliano Valdobbiadene PDOs. The performance of Franciacorta, Asti and Moscato d’Asti, Alta Langa, Collio, Lugana, Oltrepò Pavese, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Frascati and Castel del Monte was also excellent. Another 30 or so Denominations recorded contained declines within the 5% threshold, some of them physiological in nature.
“Our “Annual Report” has now become a point of reference, a sharp snapshot of a system that represents a flagship of Made in Italy”, adds Valoritalia’s managing director, Giuseppe Liberatore, “we are talking about the certification of 47 Docg, 184 Doc and 37 Igt. A critical mass that represents 56% of the national Do production, with 5,000 types of wine for a certified production that in 2022 involved more than 21 million hectoliters with almost 2 billion certified bottles, 1,353,930,245 state marks managed, for a total value that greatly exceeds 9 billion euros, and that employs about 95,000 operators included in the control system. And we can proudly say that our staff of 223 collaborators and 1,250 qualified consultants, distributed in 37 offices located in 16 regions, have collaborated in the realization of nearly 800,000 registered and tracked product movements that give us an accurate picture of our country’s Denomination of Origin wine system”.
Valoritalia, however, is also a certification body for sustainability, environmental and increasingly ethical. “We started with environmental, organic or integrated certification, but today the concept of sustainability passes through three axes: environmental, ethical-social and economic”, Liberatore reminds WineNews. “Since 2016 we have been working in this direction, giving content to an often abused term, and hundreds of companies are already Equalitas certified. Almost 18% of PDO vineyards are Equalitas certified, which is not only a company certification, but also a territorial one, and soon other appellations, such as Prosecco, will be added to Nobile di Montepulciano. As for the Ministry’s single standard, which started with wine, there has been a stop, but I hope the path can start again, because within a few years a company that is not sustainable will not be able to stay in the market. The sustainability rating of companies, in the intentions of the ECB, will be crucial to access banking services”, concludes the Valoritalia managing director.
Going back to the numbers, the main strengths and weaknesses of Italian quality viticulture also emerge. The first category includes, as the main distinguishing factor, the quantitative breadth of the denomination of origin and how size is able to guarantee performing results thanks to the ability to face markets with means and continuity. Conversely, the greatest limitation of our system is precisely the fragmentation of the Do, as recounted by President Francesco Liantonio: the top 20 Do cover 84% of bottled wine and only 27 Do out of 218 commercialize annual volumes of more than 10 million bottles. All this, has its own precise relevance especially when confronted with foreign markets.
Speaking of internationality, Nomisma's in-depth study for Valoritalia in this 2023, in addition to the domestic market, included a focus on comparing Italian and UK consumers, with two parallel surveys involving 1,000 wine consumers from each of the two markets. The goal of the survey was to analyze the role of Do, Ig, organic, sustainability certifications in wine and other new consumer trends among consumers in the two countries. “It is always interesting to analyze the choice criteria of consumers in different countries”, explains Denis Pantini, Nomisma Wine Monitor Agribusiness Manager, “just see how the presence of the appellation mark is relevant for 62% of Italian consumers compared to 36% in the UK; at the same time, the difference tapers off when it comes to the Organic or Environmental Sustainability mark (27% in Italy and 29% in the UK). Crucially, 80% of Italian consumers and 60% of UK consumers would like to have more information about certifications”.

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