Allegrini 2018

Valpolicella beyond the pandemic: in 2021 sales up 16% in value over 2020

Amarone (+24%) and Ripasso (+15%) at the top. President of the Consorzio della Valpolicella, Christian Marchesini: “we have reacted to the emergency”

These are excellent figures, those that tell of the state of health of Valpolicella wines, icons of one of the most important Italian wine territories, and that mark double-digit growth in all respects, compared to 2020 that had already shown no downturn on 2019, despite the Covid-19 emergency. As emerged from the research, commissioned by the Consorzio dei Vini della Valpolicella, conducted by Nomisma’s Wine Monitor and presented today in Verona. 2021 - with 35 million bottles of Ripasso, 20 million of Valpolicella and 19 million of Amarone - marked growth in double figures in all its key figures. Vineyards grew slightly, now at 8,573 hectares (+2%), production increased significantly (+8.6% over 2020), but the most striking figure came from the market, with sales registering an increase of more than 16% over 2020, in line with overall growth in bottled wine (+15.3%).
According to the Nomisma Wine Monitor survey, on a sample of companies representing 50% of bottled production (in which cooperation plays a major role), the rebound recorded in 2021 particularly affected Italian demand, with a 31% increase over 2020 in value, while exports grew by 8%, also thanks to an increase in average price. The difference in growth between Italy and abroad was due to the fact that the restrictions linked to the pandemic in 2020 had brought Valpolicella wines a -10% drop on the domestic market compared to 2019.
Among individual wines, the best performance was recorded by Amarone, the protagonist of an authentic boom in sales (+24%) well above the national average both in exports (+16%) and above all in Italy, where it recorded +39% in value terms. For the king of Valpolicella, whose product takes the foreign route for over 60% of the bottles sold, the top markets were Canada, the United States and Switzerland, followed closely by the United Kingdom and Germany. The trend in the individual markets saw strong growth in demand in the Anglo-Saxon countries, with the USA up 27%, Canada up 22% and the UK up 18%. Sales were also above average in Germany and the increasingly consolidated Benelux, both up 17%.
“These figures are already important in themselves for the denomination”, stressed the president of the Consortium, Christian Marchesini, “and even more positive if we look at the types. We reached the record production of grapes set aside for the production of Amarone, 367,000 quintals, however below the target of 400,000 set by the Board of Directors of the Consortium due to the lack of skilled labor. It will be difficult to repeat this performance, but we will commit ourselves to activities aimed not at increasing production but at increasing value. In terms of promotion, which has been very strong in the past two years with highly successful remote initiatives followed in 126 countries with a specific focus on each of our wines, in 2022 we will be focusing on many initiatives, from Prowein to Vinitaly, from initiatives in Italy to the Amarone Preview postponed in June due to the pandemic”.
“The results obtained”, continued Christian Marchesini, “confirm the excellent state of health of the denomination, which has been able to react in the best possible way to the emergency. We will continue to consolidate quality, which, as a Consortium, we carefully control and aim to enhance the value of Valpolicella. For the next vintage between April and May, we will make the choices aimed at maintaining the balance between the different wines, whose production is closely interconnected. The increase in production costs has little impact on our premium wines, for which we are more concerned about the availability of materials such as bottles and cartons. As far as Valpolicella is concerned, I can say that its average price is high compared to that of other red wines and, apart from this, I believe that producers, even in the face of the erosion of margins, will continue to produce it in order to defend that market segment”.
According to Denis Pantini, head of Nomisma Wine Monitor, “the strong rebound in sales on the domestic market slightly lowers the export propensity of the denomination’s wines to 61% of total turnover compared to 69% in 2020. The United States, China and other South-East Asian countries such as South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand are the foreign markets that, according to producers, will show the best growth prospects for Valpolicella wines in the coming years”. It is precisely in the markets of China and South-East Asia that Valpolicella wines can aspire to grow, not only because they are red, as they like it there, but also because they go very well with oriental dishes. However, it is necessary to reckon with the remoteness of these countries, in terms of logistics costs, but also with the lack of direct commercial presence. It is precisely this aspect - which affects Italian wine across the board - that has not allowed Italian wines in China to “take advantage” of the exclusion of Australian wines in that market.
According to the focus, Valpolicella Ripasso also did well, closing the year at +15%, again thanks to an exploit on the domestic market (+34%; this figure rises to +43% for companies with less than half a million bottles) against a more timid variation in exports (+5%) and a substantially stable average price. Canada dominates demand with 22% of total value sales, followed by Sweden, the UK and Germany which grew 44% in Ripasso imports in just one year. Significant increases were also recorded in the USA (+24%) and Denmark (+19%), while purchases in Norway declined after the strong growth recorded in 2020.
The situation is less bright for Valpolicella, which closed at +1.2% in value (+3% in volume). Here, too, Italy recorded a positive sign (+9%, with companies with less than 500,000 bottles up by 29%), while exports slowed to -4%. Canada dominates demand with over 1/3 of orders, followed by the USA and Benelux. The Russian market is growing (+31%).

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