Pessimistic Forecasts for the Global Wine Trade

Sopexa's Wine Trade Monitor identifies sustainability as an important sales criterion for wine, which is understood very differently depending on the country.

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Europe remains at the center of global wine demand, but the premiumization trend is still shining in Asia (Photo: Anton Balazh 2012/Fotolia)
Europe remains at the center of global wine demand, but the premiumization trend is still shining in Asia (Photo: Anton Balazh 2012/Fotolia)

Half of international wine traders expect a stagnant wine market in the coming months; however, the smaller the trade, the more optimistic the trader. This is according to a survey by marketing agency Hopscotch Sopexa, which surveyed 957 professionals from import, wholesale, retail, specialty retail, and online retail sectors in Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, China, Japan, and South Korea as part of the Wine Trade Monitor.

On average, the surveyed wine traders stock products from eight different countries in their range, with France, Italy, and Spain leading the origin ranking. Respondents in Belgium showed particular openness to other origins: here, every second trader stocks Argentine wines in their assortment, with Chile and Greece also emerging as popular origins.

Sustainability varies globally 

Sustainability varies greatly from market to market but is considered important across the board. Organic certifications and sustainability criteria are crucial, yet in the USA, there is a greater emphasis on social sustainability, while in Belgium, biodiversity is more valued, a factor that is of little concern to respondents in Asia.

When it comes to packaging, the need for sustainability seems to have little impact: participants expect the greatest sales growth in traditional glass bottles, while a decline in canned wine is anticipated. However, an increase in lightweight glass and screw caps is expected.

The authenticity of a wine — a key selling point for 80% of respondents — also varies by market. In Asia, the focus is on terroir; in the USA, on artisanal production; in Belgium and Germany, on a unique approach by the wineries.

The trend towards premiumisation appears to continue only in Asia. Markets like Germany and Canada, on the other hand, are seeing a shift towards entry-level pricing. The low-alcohol trend is also affecting Germany and the UK (likely fueled by the tax system), Canada, and the USA.

Western markets continue to show price sensitivity

A shift in trends seems to be happening in the sparkling segment: the popularity of Prosecco among respondents is declining, while Crémant and Cava are among the most sought-after origins for sparkling wine, even ahead of Champagne. For still wines, Chenin Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, and Cabernet Franc are trending. Pinot Noir appears to be especially booming in South Korea.


The annual SVB report may be focused on the California industry but, given the importance of the US market, its findings are of global significance.

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