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Wine Monitor Nomisma: wine consumption is decreasing in Italy, but new trends are rapidly emerging

Purchases from wine producers and online are growing, while Gen Z is focusing on sustainability, health aspects and low and no alcohol wines
Wine consumption is decreasing, but new trends are are up and coming in Italy, too

The wine market is experiencing a not very favorable moment, which is characterized by significant changes. Inflation and the negative economic situation have determined a reduction in wine consumption all over the world, including Italy, as well as a majorly revising purchasing behavior, including buying less or not buying at all. The increase in food and beverage prices (the price of wine increased + 3.1% over the last year), has resulted in people losing 6.700 euros per capita from 2021 to the first half of 2023, and 3 out of 4 Italians have had to implement strategies and different buying habits to deal with the situation; such as, for instance, reducing food waste or purchasing discounted or on sale items. Specifically, in the first 9 months of 2023, wine sales in the Italian mass retail trade decreased more than 3% in volume, while growth in the HORECA (hotels, restaurants, catering) channel, even though registering positive trends, is slowing down, due to lower tourist flows than last year and a decrease in the frequency with which Italians treat themselves to lunch or dinner outside the home. The Nomisma Wine Monitor Observatory carried out a survey on regarding end consumers in Italy with the precise aim of photographing current and future consumption models and purchasing behaviors, as well as analyzing positioning and development opportunities of the various categories and denominations.
In Italy, in the period January-September 2023, mass retail registered the value of wine sales at 65 billion euros, which means it has grown in value compared to the same period in 2022 due to inflation, but it is still in the red in volume. However, we are now starting to see a slight reduction in the decline. Following years of growth, 2022 had registered a reduction in volumes of wine sold in modern distribution (-5.8%), which, though, meant there had been a realignment after the enormous growth registered during the period of the Pandemic.
Regarding types of wine, the Nomisma analysis revealed that in the value-based mass retail trade PGI/PDO and white wines performed better (limiting the decrease to -3.5% and -3.1%, respectively). In discount markets, instead, the best trends are related to whites and table wines (-2.9% and -2.3%), and above all, rosés (increasing +1.8% in volume and +7.8% in value), although the latter play a marginal role in terms of sales share. Sparkling wines, on the other hand, are in the only category that is growing in volume on mass retail, even though sales are driven by generic wines, characterized by a significant price differential, compared to dry Charmat or DOC and DOCG brands (-30%). Therefore the Italian consumer prefers them because the prices are more convenient.
All the same, the negative economic situation impacts not only Modern Distribution, but also all consumption channels. The survey carried out by Nomisma revealed that in October 2023, 76% of Italians who drank wine over the last year, consumed it in their own homes or at relatives’ and friends’ homes, while only 24% consumed wine in clubs and restaurants. Instead, Italians who used to consume wine at home, in 2023, and in 1 out of 5 cases, have reduced or even stopped consuming wine at all. As far as drinking outside the home is concerned, 21% of those interviewed declared that they had reduced consumption, while 4% had stopped consuming wine. Furthermore, compared to today, over the next 6 months, 3 out of 4 interviewees declare that their wine consumption habits at home and away from home will remain stable and only 5% expect to increase. Concerning the channels, 24% of Italian consumers declare their intentions to start purchasing or will buy more often directly from wine producers (also in this case, the price factor is the main driving factor). Nine percent instead, will use the online channels more, which is a format used primarily by consumers who would rather spend also by virtue of an offer focusing mainly on medium-high range wines.
These trends, though, do not apply to all generations. The under 25 generation approaches the wine world in a completely different way, compared to the generations that preceded them. They drink less, mostly outside the home (38% of cases) and in different ways (75% prefer mixed mode). The Nomisma study also highlighted that the under 25s are consumers focusing much more on the sustainability of products they are about to consume, and therefore, wine as well, and they pay greater attention to the health aspects, indicating a very high interest in low and no alcohol wines.
These trends, especially towards sustainability and focusing on wines with lower alcohol content, will undoubtedly become more widespread over the next few years. In this scenario, it becomes even more strategic for Italian wine companies, but also for players in the mass retail world, to acquire tools that can support them to better define commercial, promotional and positioning policies”, Emanuele Di Faustino, Head of Nomisma Industry Retail Services commented. Di Faustino also developed the Nomisma Wine GDO Index, an original indicator that identifies positioning wine offers of the main brands of Modern Italian Distribution to support retailers' strategies in the category as well as commercial policies of individual companies.

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