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New Zealand Wines Hit New U.S. Record Despite Supply Challenges

March 23, 2022

Imported wines and spirits have been among the offerings hit the hardest by the global supply chain crunch, and bottlings from New Zealand have been no exception. Coupled with a relatively small 2021 harvest, this led to quite a challenging year for New Zealand wine marketers. Demand remained strong, however, as New Zealand exports to the United States reached another record high last year, with bottled table wine shipments increasing 7.7% to 6.8 million 9-liter cases, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

White wines account for over 95% of New Zealand’s exports to the U.S. annually, with Sauvignon Blanc comprising well over 90% of shipments last year, according to Impact Databank. American drinkers continue to gravitate to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, although Pinot Noir has been making noticeable inroads in recent years.

As the industry recovers from the pandemic, higher-priced brands continue to drive New Zealand’s U.S. growth. The category’s wines retailing at above $15 a 750-ml. rose 17.5% in IRI channels in 2021, compared to a 2% decline for brands priced between $11-$15 (the largest single New Zealand segment) and a 5% loss for wines priced below $11 a 750-ml.

New Zealand has also started to garner increased 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 modest base.

Kim Crawford’s Illuminate label sold over 100,000 cases in the U.S. last year, after a soft launch in 2000. Treasury Wine Estates’ Matua Lighter debuted at 22,000 cases in 2021, while Brancott Estate’s Flight Song added another 20,000 cases to this wellness segment last year. Meanwhile, Pacific Highway’s Giesen label has made a substantial foray into the premium non-alcoholic wine segment, with a target of 30,000 cases among its range of 0% Sauvignon Blanc, rosé, red blend, and Pinot Gris varieties.—Juan Banaag

Leading New Zealand Wine Brands in the U.S.
(thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Brand Importer 2020 2021 Percent
Change1
Kim Crawford Constellation Brands 1,615 1,805 11.8%
Oyster Bay Oyster Bay Wines USA 1,115 1,096 -1.7%
Matua Treasury Wine Estates Americas 729 763 4.7%
Whitehaven E.&J. Gallo Winery 440 535 21.5%
Nobilo E.&J. Gallo Winery 508 525 3.5%
Starborough E.&J. Gallo Winery 470 480 2.0%
Cupcake The Wine Group 538 476 -11.5%
Brancott Estate Pernod Ricard USA 168 179 6.5%
Giesen Pacific Highway Wines 121 142 17.7%
Total Leading Brands2 5,704 6,001 5.2%
1 Based on unrounded data.
2 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.
Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2022
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