SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. wine exports, more than 95% from California, reached $1.29 billion in winery revenues and 377 million liters (41.9 million cases) in 2020, according to Wine Institute using Trade Data Monitor. Total exports were up 1.1% in volume and down 6.4% in value versus the prior year. The global pandemic, retaliatory tariffs, trade agreements providing tariff free access for competitors and a strong dollar were all factors in the 2020 outcomes. “Exports have experienced a 13% growth in the last decade and in 2020 we saw consumers continue to choose California wine despite the need to shift their wine purchases from restaurants and bars to grocery and wine stores, given the pandemic lockdowns,” said Robert P. Koch, president and CEO, Wine Institute. “Wine Institute continues ongoing efforts to increase exports by working closely with the U.S. government on reducing tariffs and trade barriers, and through strategic marketing.”
“With the recent launch of Wine Institute’s ‘Golden State of Mind’ campaign, we are aiming to exceed $2.5 billion in export sales of U.S. wines by 2030, with California wines making up 95% or more of that total,” said Honore Comfort, vice president of International Marketing, Wine Institute. “We remain focused on global expansion, with a continued emphasis on enhancing market opportunities and seeking to connect with a broader audience. Consumers are attracted to California wines because of the exceptional quality at every price point and the state’s vast and diverse options.”
The top export markets for California wines in 2020 were: Canada, $424 million; United Kingdom, $236 million; the European Union’s 27-member countries, $191 million; Japan, $80 million; Hong Kong, $64 million; South Korea, $50 million; China, $21 million; Mexico, $17 million; Norway, $15 million; Switzerland, $14 million; and Singapore, $13 million.
Wine Institute has experts in key export countries and below they have provided insight into their specific regions:
“California wine continues to thrive in Canada, despite the challenging conditions of this past year. We shifted the California Wines marketing strategies to focus on retail and online sectors and as a result, the California wine category grew faster than any other wine region with a 7.4% increase in sales by value. This was a remarkable achievement, as it more than doubled the growth of the total table wine category,” said Danielle Giroux, director, California Wines Canada. “Canadian consumers remain loyal to California wine as they recognize the great quality and consistency of our wines and embrace new offerings at all price points.”
“Despite the global pandemic, 2020 was a good year for exports of California wine to Europe. Retail sales, especially online, saw a strong increase. In Germany, Europe’s largest wine market, U.S. wine imports were up 9%, to 5.5 million cases. In Sweden, U.S. wine sales, 95% from California, increased by 14%,” said Paul Molleman, director, California Wines Europe.
United Kingdom and Ireland
“The 10.7% volume growth of U.S. wine exports to the U.K. from 2019 to 2020 equated to over 15 million cases of California wine enjoyed by British consumers in 2020 and demonstrates how important the U.K. market remains to driving the growth of California wine exports,” said Damien Jackman, director, California Wines U.K. and Ireland. “Following three years of volume growth, the U.K. market now represents 38% of total global exports of U.S. wine.”
“In 2020, U.S. wine exports to Japan showed decline both by volume and value, signaling the influence of COVID-19, particularly in on-premise sales, which have long supported the penetration and growth of California’s premium wine business,” said Hiro Tejima, director, California Wines Japan. “The negative effects of COVID-19 restrictions still linger, but leading hospitality business leaders predict a strong comeback and expect the 2022 turnovers to exceed the pre-pandemic 2019 results.”
“Wine Exports to Asia were negatively impacted by the global pandemic, especially in countries with largely on-premise consumption and less-developed retail channels such as Mainland China. Countries with well-developed retail channels benefitted from increased home consumption with Korea showing the strongest growth of any market globally for US wines with an 85% in sales by value, along with Taiwan and Singapore, which showed positive increases of 11.5% and 2.2%, respectively,” said Christopher Beros, director, California Wines Asia. “A rebound of exports to China and Hong Kong and a continuation of the strong performance in Korea and Taiwan during the first quarter of 2021 bode well for a successful 2021. Exports to China, which reached a peak of $88.3 million in 2016 have suffered significant declines in recent years due to the retaliatory tariffs placed on U.S. wines.”
“With younger, more demanding wine consumers in Mexico, we are seeing new considerations among selection in wines, in addition to affordability. Certified sustainable wines, organic wines and wines with less alcohol are all growing trends that we expect to remain throughout 2021,” said Adriana Cadena, director, California Wines Mexico. “Rosé is also on the rise, experiencing a 10% growth in 2020, while red wine still leads at 60% consumption in Mexico.”
California Wine Export Program
Wine Institute’s California Wine Export Program is a public-private partnership supported by winery contributions and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It supports more than 185 California wineries exporting to 142 countries and highlights California as an aspirational location and environmental leader with beautiful landscapes, an iconic lifestyle and great wine and food. Representatives help develop export markets, covering 27 countries and provide support to California wineries. California is the fourth largest wine producing region in the world and produces more than 80 percent of total U.S. wine production and 95 percent of U.S. wine exports. Established in 1934, Wine Institute is a public policy advocacy group resenting more than 1,000. California winery and affiliated business members.
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