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Impact Databank: The Brands Driving New Zealand Wine’s U.S. Surge

April 1, 2021

New Zealand wine exports to the United States reached another record high in 2020 as shipments increased 5% to $506.2 million, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. Last year, the U.S. surpassed the U.K. to become New Zealand wine’s largest export market by value. The U.S. also remains the largest export market for New Zealand wines by volume—as recently as 2015, Australia had been ahead of the U.S. in volume terms, according to Impact Databank.

White wines accounted for nearly 97% of New Zealand wine exports to the U.S. last year, with Sauvignon Blanc comprising 95% of shipments in 2020, according to Statistics New Zealand. American drinkers continue to gravitate to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, although Pinot Noir has been making some inroads in recent years. New Zealand bottled table wine shipments to the U.S. have increased by well over 50% in the past five years, according to Impact Databank.

Higher-priced brands continue to drive New Zealand’s U.S. growth. The category’s wines retailing at above $15 a 750-ml. surged 45% in IRI channels in 2020, compared to a 25% gain for brands priced between $11-$15 (the largest single segment) and a 9% increase for wines priced below $11 a 750-ml. New Zealand has also started to garner interest in the “Better for You” wine segment—including lower-alcohol, lower-carb, and lower-calorie alternatives—which is among the fastest-growing sectors in the wine industry, albeit from a small base. Brancott Estate Flight Song Sauvignon Blanc sold nearly 17,000 cases of its lighter wine last year (up over 10%), while Kim Crawford’s Illuminate label debuted in 2020 at 12,600 cases.

The ongoing growth of New Zealand—and enhanced opportunities for other Southern Hemisphere wine regions—should help offset declines from the European sector going forward. Under pressure from tariffs on wines from France, Spain, and Germany—which have now been suspended—overall U.S. bottled table wine imports fell 9% to 70.1 million cases in 2020, according to Impact Databank.—Natalia Razzo

U.S.—Top 10 Wine Brands from New Zealand
(thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Rank Brand Importer 2019 2020 Percent
1 Kim Crawford Constellation Brands 1,366 1,614 18.2%
2 Oyster Bay Oyster Bay Wines USA 967 1,115 15.3%
3 Matua Treasury Wine Estates America 615 729 18.5%
4 Cupcake2 The Wine Group 537 538 0.2%
5 Nobilo3 E.&J. Gallo Winery 569 508 -10.7%
6 Starborough E.&J. Gallo Winery 450 470 4.5%
7 Whitehaven E.&J. Gallo Winery 345 440 27.5%
8 Brancott Estate Pernod Ricard USA 207 215 4.0%
9 Monkey Bay Constellation Brands 144 124 -14.0%
10 Giesen Estate Pacific Highway Wines & Spirits 102 121 18.2%
Total Top 104 5,302 5,874 10.8%
1 Based on unrounded data.
2 Excludes wines from other origins.
3 Acquired from Constellation Brands in 2020.
4 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.
Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2021
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