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Imported Wine’s Value Rises In The U.S., Despite Volume Dip

January 15, 2019

Premiumization continues to be the byword in the U.S. imported wine market, with higher-priced labels far outpacing the lower end. In the year-to-date through December 2, imported wine was up 1.8% by volume in IRI channels, with wines retailing at $15 and above rising by a robust 13%, compared with 1.3% growth for those below $15.

Meanwhile, shipment value is on the rise. Bottled still wine imports into the United States fell 1.4% by volume for the 10 months ending in October, to 65.1 million 9-liter cases. But shipment value (excluding bulk) increased by 6% to $3.5 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Among the five largest imported wine countries in the U.S., shipments from France and New Zealand increased during that period, while Italy, Australia, and Chile declined in volume terms.

“We see continued movement toward premiumization, and we’re well-positioned to take advantage of that trend,” Terlato Wines vice chairman John Terlato recently told SND. “Wines that represent a specific vineyard and a specific place—that’s where we see the most interest.”

Terlato and others have been benefiting from a boom in the France category, driven by the thriving rosé segment. French wines retailing at $11 and up grew by 24% in IRI data in the year-to-date through December 2, with Terlato’s Belleruche among the fast-rising brands, along with Whispering Angel, Gérard Bertrand, and Miraval.

Italy, which remains the top import segment in the U.S. market, has been a leader in the premiumization trend, with wines at $8 and over growing at 11% in IRI data through December 2, compared with an overall category increase of 2%. Established Italian brands like Stella Rosa and Roscato continue to post impressive performances, and importers are also identifying new areas of opportunity for the future. “Vermentino could be the next solid growth category for Italian white wine,” said Vincent Chiaramonte, CEO of Santa Margherita USA.

Australia has faced its share of challenges in the U.S., but it too is climbing at the premium level. Overall, the Australia category was up 3.9% in IRI channels through December 2, with wines retailing at $8 and over leaping by 64%, offsetting a 1.7% decline for the lower end. Treasury Wine Estates’ 19 Crimes has been a key growth driver for Australia lately.

Meanwhile, New Zealand wines continue to show impressive progress in the U.S., up 12% through December 2, with Kim Crawford leading the charge with ongoing double-digit gains. Among other import regions, Portugal (+7%) and Germany (+14%) posted positive growth during the same period, while Argentina (-10%), Chile (-10%), Spain (-11%), and South Africa (-16%) declined.—Daniel Marsteller

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