There is a fact common to the quarterly exports of three major European competitors: the wine is a bit pricey everywhere. It is evident from the price lists that show the average price column marking plus signs one after the other. It is evident from the trips that the operators were forced to make around the world to find the best product at the lowest price: Spain has supplied of bulk wine from Argentina as they did only a few times in the past (4.5 million liters between January and March 2012, the year before it was zero). Italy has imported 605,000 hl of Spanish wine in tanks, marking the stratospheric figure of +158% over last year.
It would be easy to say that the average prices of exports are growing quickly because they reflect their increasing in the market of origin, in turn due to lack of product, given the poor harvests in Spain and Italy. We must call something into question then: was the wine really missing? Or rather the overall increase was the indicator of a market that has played dangerously with the price lists? After all, the stock data for last July are clear (42 million hectoliters, zero balance), add to this that Italy is exporting 22% less bulk wine because no request came from the Eastern European markets, while last year they had made a rush at our country. Despite the poor harvest over the last few years, we are not in a desert.
If wine is not missing in the end, the question is: why is it on average more expensive?
Probably we drag a bit of this increase from last year’s alarm of “production at the minimum” when operators rushed to buy after October, fueling a psychological chain effect. But on the other hand it can’t be excluded that there was a game of “hide and seek”: the product is there and operators are waiting for the right moment to take it out to fetch the highest price. We must be careful with the jokes, because that -22% of bulk wine sold in the world is not due to the fact that we don’t sell wine, but due to the price too high: 63 cents per liter, +37%, not a small figure, considering that the euro in the quarter was the highest against the dollar year to date (1.35).
I’m quite sure, it’s absolutely necessary to do, Italy is going towards a rebalancing of the market, due to the forthcoming harvest and we must make room for the new wine (Prosecco for example, which prices are rising up of 20% because 500,000 hectoliters of wine are expected to be produced), but mostly because we can not stress the markets with these sudden and unjustified hike in prices: the risk is very high with a competitor – Spain – which is able to give us more of a problem either in consolidated markets (Switzerland, reviewed last week, Belgium, in the inner pages of the magazine), or in new and brand new markets (China, where the Spanish surpassed us last March in the volume of bottled wine and are very close to our values).
We appeal to the wisdom of the operators and make a quick analysis of the figures. Italy in the first three months of the year is -8% by volume (4.9 million hl) and +7% in value (1 billion euros), with average price rising by 16%, to 2 euros per liter. On the same wavelength is Spain, which is +5% (5.3 million hl) and +15% (554 million euros), for an average price increase of 10%, at 1 euro per liter. France is also aligned, +5% (3.2 million hl) and +9% (1.6 billion), with average price up of 4%, less than 5 euros per liter.
But in what do the three countries differ from each other? Surely in the progress of bottled wine segment, which saw a strong growth of the French wines (+15% to values, to 1.1 billion euros) and Spain wines (+9%, to 321 million), while italian bottled wines are panting, gaining 6.6% (795 million euros), but slowing down the volumes, with a meager +1% against a french +4% and a sparkling +8% scored by the Spanish. The Iberian bottled wines win the final sprint thanks especially to IGP and varietal, with the latter continuing to grow at breakneck pace (+76% value forfeited in March), for an average price which is now two times the “Vino de La Tierra “(1.84 against 0.82). Good performance also for the DOPs which make a mark +8%, for an average of 5%, to 3.14 euros per liter. An eponymous Italian DOP has reached in March 3.82 euros per liter, a sign that markets are beginning to recognize the true value of Spanish DOP wines.
Italian bottled wines instead make their best performance in the basic segment, with the common wines up of more than 23% both in volume and value, for an average price steady at 1.33 euros per liter. Good values for the IGP, but only white (+16%), while the red are slowing down, probably suffering from the sharp price increases (+8%, to 2.83 euros).
The figures of the sparkling wines are different: sharp slowdown of the French ones, that collect -7% in volume and value, affected by the drops suffered in England (-23% in value), U.S. (-8%) and even Italy (-14%), while the Cava wines fly high, marking increases of 22% on the monetary front, with an average list price rose by 18% to 2.60 euros per liter. The good performance of the Spanish wines in Germany, Japan and UK (+30% by values), as well as in Italy (+88%).
On the front of the “bollicine” wines (Franciacorta will forgive the term) Italy aligns to Spain, with increasing values of 13%, against a 6% drop in volumes. Not good the Asti (-19%, and -30% by volumes), while things are going well for sparkling Dop, Igp and varietal.
Finally a note for our category under special surveillance, the sparkling Dop, where Prosecco is the king, we are witnessing a decline of 8%, compared to a modest +3% on monetary charges. What is to be considered is the increasing of the figures in the column of the average price, that reached 2.60 euros per liter (+12%), which means more than an IGP wine average price and not far from Dop white, priced at 2.94 euros. (Traduzione di Glores Sandri)