An East wind inflates the sails, and sales, of Italian wine. Last year the health emergency had heavy effects on one of the most dynamic sectors of the Italian F&B industry. Wine has also paid dearly for the closure of restaurants and bars. However, many Italian companies – in particular the most structured ones, both private and cooperatives – managed to limit damages by repositioning their offer or by exploring new export markets.
ITALIAN WINE EXPORTS IN 2020 BY THE NUMBERS
According to estimates made by the Vinitaly – Nomisma Wine Monitor for Il Sole 24 Ore, at the end of 2020 Italian wine will record a drop in exports by -4.6% (in value, equal to 6.1 billion euros). A negative result that is still better than the global trend (-10.5%). All the more so when compared with the main competing country, France, whose exports fell by -17.9%. For the first time after 11 years of uninterrupted growth, sparkling wines sales will drop by -5.7%, a performance that is worse than still wines’ (-4.5%).
However, despite the Covid-19 pandemic there is an area of the world where the demand of Italian wine is growing. These are ten Eastern European countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) which in recent years have seen a rise in demand for wine in general and Italian wine in particular.
WINE DEMAND IS GROWING IN THE EAST
In 2019, the value of these countries’ global purchases of wine from abroad amounted to 1,335 billion euros. Of these, 351 million (26% of the total) regarded Italian wine. In the last 5 years (2014-2019), wine demand from Eastern Europe has grown in value by +34%. Even better (+43%) when it comes to wine from Italy.
“In the first nine months of 2020 – says the head of Nomisma’s Wine Monitor, Denis Pantini – Italian wine exports to Eastern European countries grew by +4.3% driven by sparkling wines (+9.1%), while bulk wines fell (-24.1%), confirming a trend evolving towards medium-high quality products. PDO wines represent more than half of Italian exports. Prosecco is leading the way (+14.3%), followed by Asti, and Tuscan red wines.”
The lion’s share of purchases from Eastern Europe comes from Poland (26.4% of total sales). Also Latvia is growing strongly (with almost 20% of the total sales thanks to its role as a hub for Russia). But a real boom can be seen in Ukraine (+38%); in fact it has overtaken the Czech Republic among the top buyers countries.