Those who are already consumers of Italian wine are well-aware of just how wonderful the many vintages produced in the country can be and now it seems that many other countries are starting to become increasingly aware of the fact as wine becomes an increasingly exported commodity in areas of the world that traditionally haven’t consumed much of the drink.
This is the case to the point where Italy has now become the largest exporter of wine in the world, beating out its major rival in France, in addition to selling more than other large exporters, such as Spain and South America.
Nowhere is this truer than in Asia, where Italian wine has experienced a boom in popularity in both China and India, with exports continuing to grow as more people within those markets are introduced to the many famous wines that Italy has built its reputation on over the centuries.
However, it is not just these countries that have provided the industry with a spike in export potential. Russia, which some would argue is as much a part of the Asian market as it is the European, has also been increasing its exports of Italian wine in recent years.
The boom period in Russia began in the first quarter of 2016, with exports to Ukraine in particular increasing enormously in a very short period of time. In fact, by the conclusion of the beginning of 2016, exports were up a startling 25% on the same period in 2015, reaching their highest recorded value of 3 million euros in the process, demonstrating an increasing appreciation and demand for Italian wine in the process.
This means that the official data demonstrates that, much like in many other areas of the world, Italy is now the leading exporter of wine to the Russian territories. Holding an overall marketing share of about 25%, which stands in start comparison to France, which holds 15%, and other European and South American exporters that split the remaining market between them.
The data also shows a further jump of about 32% in wine imports into the region during the same period, which shows that not only is Russia gaining an increasing demand for wines in general, but that the region appears to favour Italian wines over all others.
It is not just volume where increases are being made either. As Russian sensibilities evolve and more people in the country become aware of what separates quality wine from those that are perhaps not quite so good, there has also been an increasing demand for value as well as volume. This translates into a 45% increase in the amount of money that the Italian wine industry has earned from its exports when compared to the same period last year.
This can be most obviously seen with the increasing awareness that the Russian market has for the quality labels that define many Italian wines. As such, 66% of all Italian wines that were exported to the region carried either the DOC, DOCG or IGT quality assurance labels.
The Overall Picture
This boom in Russian demand has contributed to an overall excellent picture for Italian wine exporters as we reach the halfway point of 2016. The country now makes one in every five bottles of wine that is exported to another country, creating a market share that is only really rivalled by the French.
This has resulted in an export industry worth 5 billion euros, which amounts to a 575% increase over the course of the last thirty years. Of course, the internet has become increasingly prevalent during this time, leading many to speculate that the fact that Italian wine is now more easily available to people all of the world is playing a large part in what is an unprecedented period of success for the industry.
Though the Russian market continues to grow, it is important to note that Italy is also making great strides elsewhere as well. The United States is now the number one consumer of Italian wine, having imported an astonishing 1.3 billion euros worth in 2015 alone. This represents another increase of 13% on the previous year, demonstrating that this demand for Italian exports is not coming from new markets alone.
This increase is also reflected elsewhere in the world. The previously mentioned Chinese market has developed an increasing taste for classic Italian wines like Chianti and Barolo, possibly because of the positive connotations that the colour red has in Chinese society, in addition to the quality of wines. All told, that market has imported 80 million euros worth of wine during 2015, representing another 18% growth. Even the Japanese market, which is historically not a huge importer, has seen growth of 2% in 2015.
The Final Word
So what does this all mean for Italian wine producers? Well the simple fact of the matter is that countries all over the world, both traditional markets and those that have emerged in recent years, are clearly identifying the quality that the Italian wine industry is capable of producing and upping their demands considerably in response.
Better yet, the fact that the Italian industry has gained such strong footholds in emerging markets, like China, India and now Russia, indicates that the room for further growth is immense. As long as the industry continues to focus on such emerging markets, it is likely that this demand is only going to increase further as more people become aware of the best Italian wines.
All told, the data indicates that the future is bright for the Italian wine industry, with exports across the board being at a record high and emerging markets growing year-on-year. The challenge for producers is now two-fold. Firstly, they need to continue making the high-quality wines that has allowed the industry to flourish in recent years. However, they must also rise to the challenge that this increased demand places on them. With higher volumes being exported, more strain is placed on the industry, though we are sure that Italian wine companies are more than up for the task.