Export figures in the newly published Rabobank Wine Quarterly reveal double digit value growth for 2010 exports from France, Italy and Spain.
Meanwhile, many of the New World wine making countries struggled to take advantage of the recovery in global demand. South African export volumes dropped 2 per cent, and Australian and Chilean volumes both grew by around 2 per cent.
Much of the disparity in fortune between the New and Old Worlds in 2010 can be put down to currency. Talking about Italian exports, Rabobank said: “The weaker Euro, particularly in the first half of the year, is likely to have boosted competitiveness especially relative to New World producers suffering from strong currencies.”
However, unfavourable currency exchange rates may not tell the whole story. Shipping wine bottles across the world to big consumer markets in Europe is on the decline due to cost and environmental concerns.
For example, Australian wine exports to the UK fell 56 per cent in volume terms last year. Rabobank said: “The ongoing shift towards in-market bottling in the UK market needs to be considered in interpreting these movements.”
Role of China
And Rabobank pointed out that in the key emerging market of China, it is French wine rather than New World wine that is currently in pole position.
“French wine producers in particular occupy a commanding position, having formed deep distribution channel partnerships and strong consumer associations with their products owing to their pioneering efforts since the early 1980s.”
Australian wine has developed quite a strong position in China as well but France has the lead in price and volume in an import bottled wine market that has been growing at around 60 per cent a year over the past 5 years and now totals 146.3m litres.
Rabobank said there may be opportunities for other wine producers going forward as existing players struggle to meet the growing and competing needs of suppliers and consumers in such a dynamic market.
Giving a general overview of the health of the global wine market, analysts at the bank were positive despite some concern about the impact of the Japanese situation.
“While most data seems to point to continued recovery of the wine trade in 2011, the recent disaster in Japan may slow that trend for some suppliers.”