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New Zealand Wine Nears 5 Million Cases In U.S. Market

April 13, 2017

New Zealand wine’s U.S. volume has exploded over the past five years, with bottled shipments at almost 4.7 million cases in 2016, according to Impact Databank—an increase of nearly 2 million cases since 2012. In the 12 months through last June, the U.S. became New Zealand’s top export market by volume, overtaking the U.K. with a 14% advance. Growth was even more robust in dollar terms, with shipment value up 24% to $336.7 million. Largely as a result of New Zealand’s upswing, Sauvignon Blanc, the country’s signature grape, now ranks second in the U.S. market among imported varietals by origin, behind only Italian Pinot Grigio.

Constellation-owned Kim Crawford—leading the way at the premium end of the category—has been a major contributor to New Zealand’s ascent in the U.S. Last year, Kim Crawford became the first Kiwi brand to top 1 million cases in the U.S., capping a run in which it has expanded by nearly 400,000 cases over a three-year period—at a premium price point solidly above $15 a 750-ml.

But New Zealand’s rise has hardly been a single-brand phenomenon. In addition to Kim Crawford, Constellation stablemate Nobilo, retailing a few dollars less per bottle, continues to carve out solid growth, advancing from 426,000 cases in 2013 to 615,000 cases last year. Meanwhile, Oyster Bay Wines’ namesake brand has also maintained an impressive trajectory. After averaging 14% annual growth over the past three years, Oyster Bay should easily cross the 700,000-case mark in 2017.

E.&J. Gallo is also thriving in the New Zealand category via its Starborough label. Despite the strong competition in the segment, Starborough has enjoyed a swift climb. Since launching in 2008, it’s seen double-digit growth every year. After a 16% increase to 470,000 cases in 2016, according to Impact Databank, Starborough is poised to crest a half-million cases this year.

Recently, Treasury Wine Estates has also been making a strong push in the New Zealand segment with its Matua brand. Matua, one of TWE’s global priority brands, has nearly doubled in the U.S. over the past three years, rising 12% to 350,000 cases in 2016. Perhaps most impressive, all of the above retail in the $12-$20 area, illustrating the fact that consumers’ penchant for New Zealand bottlings is clearly a premium phenomenon. —Daniel Marsteller 

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