Italian Producers Toast Record Sparkling Wine Exports in 2018

Is there a single Italian wine that carries the same level of prestige as Prosecco in the current industry?

This wonderful sparkling wine has managed to knock Champagne off its perch as the world’s leading source of bubbly alcoholic goodness. And the wine seems to go from strength to strength every single year. With emerging Asian markets, including China, inparticular, starting to latch onto the wine, it looks like 2019 will be another great year for Prosecco.

But we’re not going to look forward in this article. Instead, we’re going to look at 2018 and the year that was for the Italian sparkling wine. And unfortunately, the year has a bit of bad news thrown in as well.

Let’s start with that.

Prosecco Exports to Britain Fall in 2018

The British love affair with Prosecco is a well-documented fact at this point. The country important millions of pounds worth of the stuff every year and it’s easy to find several examples of Prosecco on every supermarket shelf in the UK.

That love affair runs so deep that for the last decade, producers have seen the amount of Prosecco that they export into Britain rise over and over again. Year on year, they ship more of the wine to British merchants.

Unfortunately, 2018 saw a minor reversal in fortunes for Prosecco in the UK.

The first half of 2018 saw exports of the wine drop by about 7% compared to what they were in 2017. And there are a few reasons why this may have happened.

The first suggestion is that the market’s simply oversaturated right now. With Prosecco being such a popular wine, it’s natural that every producer is trying to jump on board.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

While the British public clearly still has a taste for Prosecco, it looks like we’ve found the limit of that taste for now.

Others point to the rise of some home-grown sparkling wines. It may be that a portion of Brits have decided to give some of the sparkling wines produced in their own country a try instead of plumping for the Italian stuff. A rising sparkling wine industry in the country has certainly created new challenges for Prosecco.

Finally, there’s the spurious reporting that went on in the UK press during 2018. At various points, UK papers made claims about how the sugar in Prosecco is such that it can cause teeth to rot. These completely invalid claims made the rounds for several weeks and may have led to more than a few consumers deciding to ditch Prosecco and go for other wines instead.

And all of this is without mentioning the uncertainty that still surrounds Brexit and where exactly Britain will stand in its regards to the trade deals that it has in place with Italy right now.

Why are we focusing so much on the British market, you might wonder?

Brits consumer 25% of all of the Prosecco that leaves Italy. As a result, they make up a huge chunk of the market.

And that’s what makes the news that we’re about to share all the more impressive.

Global Prosecco Sales Have Reached Record Highs

With Britain having such a large chunk of the Prosecco export market, you’d instantly assume that any decreases in exports into Britain would have an effect on the overall state of Prosecco exports.

But that doesn’t seem to have been the case at all in 2018.

In fact, Italy’s sparkling wine export, buoyed by Prosecco, of course, broke records in 2018.

The strong UK demand, even with its slight decrease, clearly played a part. But its become clear that the Prosecco craze has reached some much larger countries over the last few years.

In particular, the United States has emerged as one of the leading exporters of the wine in the world. And in their case, the love affair with Prosecco is just getting started. With a population that’s about five times higher than the UK’s, it’s possible that the US will soon overtake Britain as the leading exporter of the wine.

The demand for Italian sparkling wine is such that about 70% of the wine produced in Italy actually gets exported elsewhere. Specifically, producers created 700 million bottles of sparkling wine in 2018.

500 million of those were consumed outside of Italy.

The stats seem to indicate growth across the board as well.

The United States provided a 13% increase in Italian sparkling wine exports for 2018, which obviously gave a huge boost to the industry. And Germany also recorded a healthy increase.

But it’s the less obvious markets that may have given Italian sparkling wine the biggest boost of all.

Take Russia as an example. Not typically a country known for having a great love of wine, it still saw an increase of 21% in sales of Prosecco. And that’s despite a number of trading difficulties trying to get in the way of the Italian wine reaching the country.

Japan is another surprising country that’s fallen in love with Italian sparkling wine. They contributed an 18% increase in exports for 2018. And they also show just how much potential the Asian markets have to offer to the Italian sparkling wine sector.

The Final Word

2018 was a great year for Italian sparkling wines. There were a few bad bits of news. A decline in the UK is something to worry about. However, without sensationalist news and with Brexit resolved, it’s likely that market will rebound.

There are also plenty more imitations on the market now, but that will happen with any type of wine that gains popularity.

The biggest takeaway from all of this is that the Italian sparkling wine industry is now the largest that it has ever been. Exports are healthier than ever, with several huge countries recording double-digit growth in the amount of Italian sparkling wine that they export.

If this trend continues, the future certainly looks bright for the industry.



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