Ouch! Wine imports hurting so far this year

(Got Chile’s value wrong and it threw off several others. No problem with the text but the chart is updated. Thanks to Mariano Larrain Hurtado for noticing that.)

They ain’t pretty, the bottled wine import numbers this year*, and that’s on top of an ugly 2018. I’m still busy finishing World Baijiu Day stuff (including the photos, quotes and terms pages) but here are five points about imports for the first six months of 2019.

Big picture #1: Bottled wine saw drops in volume by 14% and value by 19.5%. This, after volume dropped 9% and value stayed fairly flat last year. The days of default double-digit growth feel distant now. And the drop isn’t due to domestic brands rising. They’re hurting, too.

Big picture #2: Chile, Australia and France own the market, with over 75% share by volume and value. This has come at the expense of Spain, with its dwindling volume on low-value wine. The US got hammered due to tariffs but had a minor share anyway.

Australia: Once a distant second to France, it has leapfrogged that nation for top spot by value. But this was due to huge France declines (almost 39%!) rather than Australia gains. It’d be revealing to know how brands are doing beyond heavy-hitting TWE and lead label Penfolds.

Chile: The only “top five” source to post gains, it now ranks number one by value, no doubt helped by a free trade deal and, let’s face it, plenty of decent cheap wine. Chilean wine now comes in at an average of USD2 per bottle. Volume good, value bad.

France: Its lead in value and volume once seemed certain but both now belong to New World rivals. And that once-tight relationship between Bordeaux and China? It feels like they’re sleeping in separate beds. But at least France isn’t heading toward low volume-low value territory like Spain or seemingly stuck in limbo like Italy.

Okay, that’s five! I’ll wrap up most World Baijiu Day stuff soon and have several interesting Q&As on China’s wine market in the pipeline. If you like content such as this, consider donating and helping cover this site’s expenses.

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