Wine Intelligence’s first global survey of trade professionals delivers a broadly positive view of the sector’s future – though with a few bumps in the road ahead
Seeing the world for what it really is has been a tough task ever since St Paul wrote his enduring lines to the Corinthians, to which our headline pays tribute. With our own, isolated perspective, we may see an incomplete picture – or, worse, a distorted one. Collecting the views of our peers together may help us either dampen our misplaced enthusiasm, or perhaps cure us of unwarranted pessimism; either way, it’s a set of views we can use to improve our own thoughts.
With that goal in mind, in 2019 Wine Intelligence, for the first time, sought the expert views from wine industry professionals around the world to produce a strategic report focusing on the confidence, opportunities and threats in the wine sector that are expected until 2025. Nearly 300 of them, representing 52 countries, very kindly gave up a few minutes of their time to answer our questions and several helped us with more in-depth answers. We quizzed respondents on their expectations in terms of trends, investment, employment and growth opportunities; we also asked them to look at threats and give an overall reaction on investment priorities and market attractiveness.
First, the good (and perhaps unexpected) news. Amid talk of global recession, the Trump trade war and Brexit, future expectations for the global wine market appear to be broadly positive. In particular, our respondents are more confident in the flow of investment and the potential commercial opportunities that will emerge in the next five years. On the downside, they acknowledge that current business conditions are not helpful and reckon that employment in the sector will shrink in the short term before it grows again.
Within the overall respondents, the most buoyant appear to be those who do business in China. In fact, the respondents overall considered China to be the world’s most attractive market for wine, despite recent falls in imports and domestic consumption (the US came second).
Not surprisingly, given the looming economic trainwreck of Brexit, the UK wine market is considered the least attractive of the major markets at the moment. As well as long-run profitability issues because of high taxes and the concentration of buying power in a few supermarkets, the general uncertainty of the Brexit outcome is weighing on industry minds.
The wisdom of this particular crowd of experts also held forth on wine styles, the growth of organic and sustainable and the growing need to address the industry’s carbon footprint.