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Opinion
22/03/2017

Challenges for the spanish wine in 2017

Ignacio Ríder and Rafael del Rey. Spanish Wine Market Observatory (OeMv)

The historical harvest of 2013 is behind us, when the large quantity of wine available led Spanish wine exports to skyrocket... at lower prices. Large quantities left the country, especially bulk wines, which led to average global prices that were on the verge of dipping below a euro per liter, far from the prices of the other leading global producers, which made us the world's leading supplier of wine in liters, surpassing Italy, but with much lower revenues than French and Italian companies.

Following a few more "normal" harvests, we expected an abrupt stop—or even a decline—in the volume sold abroad in 2015 and 2016. However, what we've seen is that a good growth rate has been maintained, with an improvement in the value of our wines, albeit at economical prices. But that trend is changing... in a good way.

More euros in exports

According to the most recent data analyzed by the OeMv, the first 11 months of last year saw a decline of 7% in terms of the volume of Spanish wine exports, but a slight 0.4% increase in terms of value. In total, wine exports declined by 154 million liters with respect to the same period of 2015, which generated 10.3 million euros more in revenues.

Since the harvest was more balanced, and demand, especially in non-EU countries, seems to remain steady, one of the main objectives for Spanish wines in 2017 is to maintain higher average prices internationally, improving sales of packaged wines and increasing bulk wine varietals, as occurred in 2016: between January and November, packaged DO wines, products with notable added value, increased their value by 32.7 million euros (+3%) to around 1.130 billion euros, i.e. almost 50% of total revenues. The average price, which is increasing slightly, reached 3.35 euros per liter. In terms of volume, the overall decline was mainly noticeable in bulk wine with no DO, a category in which we lost more than 160 million liters for an overall loss of 154 million. It's the Spanish wine that is most economical in terms of exports, at 36 cents/liter, although it has been increasing for several months.

The decline in this wine was partially offset by the notable advancement of bulk varietals, sales of which increased by 20% in terms of volume and more than 25% in terms of value, and we expect that trend to continue in the coming months.

Wines with PDO status continue to advance well outside Spain which, together with the improved performance of more expensive bulk wines and at higher prices, leads the average price of Spanish wines up to about 1.18 euros per liter. That's still less than our competitors' prices, but it's a far cry from one euro per liter. It's good news, but it's not time to celebrate yet: if there's another huge harvest in the future—which could very well happen—once again we'd have to export lots of wine, very quickly, at notably lower prices.

Promoting domestic consumption

Another challenge we face in 2017 lies in Spain: we must maintain and promote greater growth in domestic consumption, especially in the foodservice industry and in new direct sales channels. So far this century, wine consumption in Spain has declined notably, which has led us to seek out new clients, which has led to extraordinary progress in exports.

Our sales structure has changed substantially: there are fewer sales in HoReCa, in line with the start of the economic crisis in 2008 and the implementation of the point system for driver's licenses, among other aspects, although it seems like we're seeing the beginning of a recovery; food consumption is more or less stable (PDO and sparkling wines are on the rise, while wines without PDO status are sliding); and there are many more direct sales.

Algunas claves que pueden llevar a lograr este objetivo son la colaboración con la distribución, una mejor formación en el sector de la restauración y seguir invirtiendo en la venta directa, que está creciendo a muy buen ritmo en los últimos años. En este último aspecto, el enoturismo está de moda en nuestro país, siendo una actividad con muchas posibilidades de futuro y que ayuda al mejor conocimiento de la cultura del vino y, por tanto, a un mayor aumento de su consumo. Bodegas y marcas prestan cada vez más atención a las actividades de promoción, marketing y redes sociales, con el objetivo de acercar el vino a todos los públicos y quitar ese “miedo” que, aunque cada vez menos, aún existe a la hora de tomar vino, sobre todo entre los más jóvenes.

En resumen, los vinos españoles están generando más valor en el mercado exterior gracias a la mejor evolución sobre todo de los vinos con denominación de origen. Menos volumen comercializado pero mayores ingresos por precios al alza, lo que contribuye a mejorar la imagen de nuestros vinos en el mundo, acompañada de un enorme esfuerzo comercial que están realizando nuestras bodegas.

En 2017 no solo se debe mantener sino intentar mejorar esta tendencia, apostando por los vinos con mayor valor añadido y por el crecimiento de los graneles varietales. Sin olvidar la promoción del consumo interior en sus diversos canales, invirtiendo cada vez más en actividades de promoción y e-commerce para lograr que los excelentes vinos españoles estén de moda no solo fuera de nuestras fronteras, sino entre todos nosotros.

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