The world’s most attractive wine markets: South Korea closes in on the US

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Wine

The US is the world’s most attractive wine market: but its lead over #2 market South Korea has been cut, according to a new report from Wine Intelligence.

South Korea rose eight places to #2 in 2020, and remains there this year, according to the Global Compass 2021 Report (which measures key economic and wine market factors to rank wine’s attractiveness in 50 focus countries).  

“The US’s strong economic rebound, partly funded by government stimulus, along with a standout year for wine sales, kept it ahead in our rankings,”​ said Lulie Halstead, CEO at Wine Intelligence.

“However, #2 South Korea is gaining fast in our model. Wine growth in the US is tailing off, whereas still wine volume in South Korea grew by more than +11% CAGR 2016-2020, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.”

Pandemic winners and losers

The world's most attractive wine markets

The top 5 most attractive wine markets are the US, South Korea, UK, Ireland & Germany.

Colombia joins Brazil, Poland, Romania, South Korea & Singapore as a 'growth' market this year, with Mexico & Russia falling from that category into the 'emerging' category.

China, also an 'emerging' market, fell 13 places to #17.

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has hit the global wine industry, causing declines in value and volume.

Those which have traditionally been highly dependent on tourism have suffered – Spain, Italy and France all dropped down the annual rankings with the lack of holidaymakers.

South Africa’s alcohol sales bans, and Angola’s economic troubles, mean these two markets are at the bottom of the rankings.  

But the pandemic has not been bad news for every country's wine industry.

Norway, Sweden, and Finland all rose up the rankings as Covid restrictions stopped consumers crossing borders to buy wine, forcing them to shop locally instead. 

South American markets such as Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina also rose in the model rankings, driven by expanding consumer bases, the rise of ecommerce, and adventurous attitudes.

Changing consumption habits

Ecommerce has been a winner during COVID-19 lockdowns: creating an ‘unprecedented growth opportunity’ for the wine category.

And survey data suggests that wine drinkers will stay committed to online purchasing. In the UK, for instance, a larger proportion of consumers have said they would be more likely than pre-pandemic to continue using online channels when purchasing beverages.

“Even though global wine consumption has declined, fortunately what we’ve seen is that consumers have pivoted, rather than cancel, their consumption habits, transitioning their going-out behavior into new occasions in the home or in outdoor settings,”​ added Halstead.

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