What are the causes of the softening prices and what are the potential areas of growth for bulk wine buyers to explore?
The chief cause of softer market prices is the stop-start, incremental nature of buying activity in most bulk wine markets currently. Although buying continues, it is often for smaller volumes. As this is often accompanied by the quicker loading of consignment, this is a clear sign that buyers want to reduce their risk of holding excess supply by only buying volumes they know they will definitely need. In turn, this is a sign of slower wine sales across European and North American markets.
A long global supply
In addition, large bulk wine inventory levels – especially of red wines – exist in Argentina, Australia, California, Chile, and France. In Chile, 2023 grapes prices are lower than in 2022, translating to some lower 2023 bulk wine prices. New Zealand’s 2023 crop has been larger than expected. The weakness of South Africa’s Rand versus major currencies has – for the international buyer – more than offset an uptick in prices there.
Less vineyard area?
The assessment of this month’s Ciatti California Report could easily apply internationally: “Wine and grape markets [are] shrinking overall, potentially leading to lower need for wine and grapes over time.” We are seeing vine pull-outs get put back on the agenda in a number of producer countries, a conversation placed on pause by the temporary spike in wine sales in some markets during the pandemic.
Opportunistic buying limited
The slow nature of wine’s consumer sales has disincentivised those bulk wine buyers who normally come into a long market to harness price-quality opportunities. As freight costs have greatly reduced and logistics efficiency has markedly improved since last year, and there is some attractive pricing available on the bulk market, on some excellent wines, it is a good time for buyers seeking to invest in or supply an innovative new brand. Now is a potentially a good time to invest in marketing as it may have greater cut-through when rival brands are reducing their own marketing spend.
Going for growth
Where can buyers find growth? Many of the current growth areas seem to be to one side of the mainstream of the market: low- or no-alcohol wines, for example, or canned wine which is increasingly using more premium, varietal and vintage-specific wines (such as “Loire Valley-2021-Viognier”) for marketing on the label.
Spritzers a hit
In many markets there has been a proliferation of wine-based spritzer drinks, a segment that handily combines the canned wine, sparkling wine and low-alcohol trends together. To attract younger, health-conscious consumers, canned wine cocktail/spritzers brands often make a virtue of their transparency (for example: “Four simple ingredients: white wine 50%, sparkling water 40%, tonic 9%, natural lemon and lime flavours 1%”). Wine-based cocktails such as Sangria – which this month’s Ciatti Global Report discusses in greater detail – are also a potential growth area.
For the very latest buying and selling opportunities, get in touch with Ciatti direct; the team can draw on its many decades of experience to help you identify growth.