Thursday, 14 June 2018 12:13

The good and the bad news — Editorial

Written by  Tessa Nicholson
Tessa Nicholson. Tessa Nicholson.

Two reports out of the UK in recent weeks have some great news for New Zealand wine producers and some warnings that need to be taken on board.

The first report from Accolade Wines, shows that New Zealand is doing remarkably well in terms of wine sales in this all-important market. 

Despite overall wine sales being down, New Zealand sales have risen, both in volume and value. In fact the Wine Nation report describes New Zealand as the “origin on the rise”. Not only in the off-trade, but also the on-trade. New Zealand leads the way with an average of £4.90 for a 175ml glass of wine, taking over from Spain as the highest price origin in the on-trade. Not only did our price increase per glass, but we also increased  in volume. It is something to be proud of.

But the more sobering news, is the fact that while we are on the rise, we are bucking the overall trend.

Wine consumption is down in the UK, as it is in large tracts of Europe, according to a Nielsen report. Globally the growth in the next 18 months in wine consumption is expected to rise by 1.2 percent – but that is a slightly skewed forecast, given the majority of that increase is due to the markets of China and Russia only. Volume sales are also expected to rise by 2020 by 1.9 percent, yet again bolstered by sales to China and Russia.

In the UK, the amount of money spent on wine dropped in 2017 by £6.5 million dollars. That’s an awful lot of bottles.

So where is the money being spent? Well mostly on craft beer and gin – the latest trend to capture the attention of consumers, especially younger consumers.

There has always been a fear that the next generation coming along will not be induced to follow in the steps of their parents, in terms of alcoholic beverage choices. And the sudden rise of gin in the UK is maybe testament to the truth of that belief. It is not a new kid on the block, let’s face it, a gin and tonic is as British as you could possibly get when it comes to drinks. After all Prime Minister Jacinda Adern took a bottle of boutique gin, made in Marlborough, not a case of wine, for the Duchess of Cornwall, on her recent trip to Britain. 

But it is the increase in styles of gin that has led to gin parties, gin bars and an array of flavoured gins. Distillery numbers in the UK rose to 315 earlier this year, that is double the number five years ago. Craft gins are providing consumers with a range of choices on how to drink the spirit. And consumers are lapping it up, viewing gin in much the same way as their craft beer counterparts, seeking out new and exciting brands.

That leaves wine producers with a problem that needs to be faced. How do they get back in sync with consumers, and encourage them to feel the same excitement about wine as they do about craft beer and gin? How do they stop the decline in volume sales and how do they attract a new consumer base – particularly those younger consumers who have yet to be lured into the world of wine?

While we can deservedly pat ourselves on the back about the rise in volume and value of our wine in the UK, we can’t ignore that we have some work ahead of us to ensure we stay in front of the pack.

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