The value of Italian wine exports grew buy an estimated 6 per cent to €5.4 billion in 2015, compared to €5.1 billion in the previous year. However, reduced product availability after 2014's disappointing harvest meant that the volume of wine exports was lower than the year before, reaching just over 20 million hectolitres.
Growth was mainly driven by sparkling wines, whose cross-border sales increased in terms of both value and volume by over 10 per cent. Prosecco registered new export records in the North American (USA and Canada), UK, Swiss and Scandinavian (mainly Sweden and Norway) markets. Despite subdued sales, bottled wines still accounted for more than 75 per cent of total Italian wine exports.
Bulk Italian wine sales registered a sharp decline, in part due to competitive pressure from Spain, which in 2015 increased exports by over 10 per cent in volume, while at the same time reducing prices by 10 per cent. As a result, more one in three litres of bulk wine now sold in the world is of Spanish origin.
Overall, difficulties remain on the Russian market which saw a 30 per cent annual drop, while the Chinese market recovered, registering growth of over 50 per cent in wine imports to around €1.8 billion. This placed China as the fourth largest global market in value of wine imports, after the USA, UK and Germany.
Italy has not managed to take full advantage of this recovery, increasing wine exports to China by 'only' 15 per cent, while competitors such as France, Chile and Australia achieved between 60 and 120 per cent.
Meanwhile, another study by the Wine Monitor, Ismea and the Wine Observatory of the Italian Wine Institute (UIV) has forecasted a drop in wine consumption in Italy during 2016, mainly due to increased consumer awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving , as well as a preference for other alcoholic beverages.