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As Prosecco Sales Surge, Producers Debate Likelihood Of Shortage

June 9, 2015

Over the past several weeks, Prosecco producers such as Bisol and Mionetto have warned of an impending global Prosecco shortage, citing a poor 2014 harvest combined with surging demand in export markets such as the U.S., where consumption has skyrocketed from just a half-million nine-liter cases in 2008 to around 3.5 million cases last year.

Heavy rains led to a smaller-than-expected 2014 harvest, with brokers buying up stocks and driving up prices, according to Bisol Prosecco president Gianluca Bisol. “Over the last six months, there’s been an increase in prices. It’s not too exaggerated right now, because there are many agreements in place (between growers and brands), but as those agreements end, we’ll see bottle prices rise by around 20%-25% over the next six months,” Bisol told SND. Over the last 12 months, Bisol Prosecco was up roughly 12% in the U.S., selling around 20,000 (nine-liter) cases.

Mionetto managing director Enore Ceola also expects shortage-induced price hikes on Prosecco in the U.S. sometime between October through December. “Whoever bought Prosecco juice in April or May of this year, if they found it, paid 60%-70% more than what we usually pay in September. So you’ll see some price increases from brands that might not plan ahead, like private labels. But it will really depend on each brand’s planning strategy for buying grapes or juice,” says Ceola, adding that Mionetto’s long-term partnerships with growers have helped insulate the brand thus far. The U.S. market’s number-one Prosecco and an Impact “Hot Brand,” Mionetto rose 13.6% to reach roughly a half-million cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank.

Prosecco trade groups and other producers have countered the claims made by Bisol and Mionetto, however, arguing that threats of a shortage are overblown. In a recent statement, the Prosecco DOC Consortium reported that while the 2014 average harvest yield was about 9% less than the maximum yield forecast, total Prosecco production was still 18% larger than the previous harvest. Additionally, the Consortium dismissed the chance of “any significant price increase,” over the summer, adding that any small price hikes would likely be limited to lower-priced, entry-level Prosecco labels. Likewise, the Consorzio di Tutela del Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene denied any danger of a shortage.

Zonin USA brand marketing and communications manager Jelena Meisel agrees there’s no cause for alarm. “The heavy rains last year dampened grape growth in some areas, but we don’t think it will make a serious difference in price or availability this year,” notes Meisel. Also an Impact “Hot Brand,” Zonin Prosecco rose 13.7% last year, to reach just under 300,000 cases stateside.

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