Drinking 'less but better' slows still wine imports

01 March 2017

Drinking less but drinking better will result in UK still wine imports dropping 3.5 million cases by 2020.

IWSR bods have calculated still wine imports will fall from highs of 120.9m 9-litre cases in 2015 to 117.4m, as consumers continue to think before they drink.

When it comes to still wine, white trumps red and rosé. While sparkling wine sales show no signs of falling flat, all three still wines are forecast to drop sales in the next five years. White will lose the least, as cases fall from 54.9m to 53.5m by 2020. Consumption of red wine is set to fall to 52.5m and rosé will decline from 13.8m to 12.9m in the five-year period.

Lower price points (between £1.50 and £2 less for a 75cl bottle) coupled with the lowering of drink-driving limits have and will continue to have a ‘particularly strong effect’ for on-trade sales, the report says.

‘Reasons to explain the decline of consumption are the on-trade sales, which are down probably linked to the drink-driving limits, for instance in Scotland,’ Vinexpo CEO, Guillaume Deglise explains.

‘Millennials also are into other easy to drink propositions and this is probably the main reason for decline. Millennials are very much into flavoured cider and craft spirits in the UK so they have moved from wine to these.’

The negative forecast is also due to Brexit. Deglise explains: 'We expect the market to be impacted by the results of the EU referendum. There’s an economic uncertainty now and also some price increases. The UK is a very price sensitive market.’

Consumer knowledge levels are however a cause for celebration. ‘The level of knowledge in the UK is very strong compared to other European countries,’ Deglise says. ‘The younger consumers especially know much more about wine than the former generations. They know more about grape varieties and they would name the grape variety rather than just asking for a red or white wine.’

Other ‘positive trends’ are internet sales which are ‘picking up fast’ and ‘playing a significant role nowadays’.

London is named as a key driver of the trends in the UK market but also outside the UK. ‘What happens in London, most of the time, happens a bit later in other capital cities of Europe,’ he adds.

The Vinexpo/ IWSR Report, released today, covers trends and volumes from the on and off-trade across 45 countries from 2010 to 2020.

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