Luis Osorio, Country Manager for Portugal and Lisbon native, reflects on the revival in fortunes of his home country and how this is affecting wine drinkers in the latest Portugal Wine Landscapes 2020 report
When I moved to the UK, six years ago from Lisbon, Portugal was a near-bankrupt country with few jobs and a gloomy economic outlook. I could hardly imagine the turn around that was about to happen.
Since 2014, the economy has sort recovered to an extent – jobs have been created, a new tech / start-up scene boomed and tourism has exploded. In fact, 2018 broke a national record with 12.8 million visitors. For a country nurtured on the sounds of Fado, the traditional Portuguese music known for its mournful tunes and lyrics, these are unusual times. I have never seen such a positive vibe in Portugal as the country is now a go-to destination for tourists, which has affected many aspects of the country – including the wine industry.
Inbound tourist flows supported business in the internal market and created demand for Portuguese wine in key export markets. Tourism drove an on-trade revolution, putting Lisbon and Porto on the map of foodies ‘most-wanted’ destinations. The ‘new Portuguese’ cuisine has already jumped from the streets of these cities to major cities around the world. For example, in London Casa do Frango and Bar Douro (which is opening its second venue), are the best examples of what the renewed, fresh, cool and entrepreneurial restaurant scene of Portugal looks like abroad.
This new concept of Portugal opens the door to a whole new level of brand-building and value creation. Over the past few years, we have seen large brand owners in Portugal investing heavily on consumer-focused initiatives. Esporão opened its first restaurant in Porto; Sogevinus, Ervideira and others opened their own shops; and The Fladgate Partnership opened the stunning Yeatman Hotel in Porto and is building The World of Wine next door. And these are just a few examples. Portuguese brand owners are doing a really great job in building on their brands, creating value and tackling the opportunity that the larger context is bringing.
In our new publication, Portugal Wine Landscapes 2020, we can see how this shift in confidence and thinking is impacting Portuguese regular wine drinkers. According to the report, average spend per bottle across many off-trade occasions has significantly increased since 2017, particularly ‘with an informal meal at home’ and ‘with a more formal dinner party at home’. Price is also being used as the most important driver of choice, suggesting Portuguese consumers are confident that the cost of the product on the shelf is a good reflection of the quality insight the bottle. This willingness to spend more correlates in a significant growth in interest in the category as tracking data is showing a growth in those agreeing with the statement ‘I enjoy trying new and different styles of wine on a regular basis’. Similarly, the proportion of Portuguese regular wine drinkers with low involvement has significantly decreased since 2018.
It is an exciting time for the Portuguese wine industry as the data, and my own experience, paints an encouraging picture.
Source: Portugal Wine Landscapes 2020
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