Rioja wine exports reached a record high in 2011
Rioja wine exports reached a record high in 2011, offsetting dropping consumption in Spain
· Despite the recession, Rioja managed to boost sales up to 269 million litres.
· 65% of red wine sales are of high added-value, oak-aged wines.
Thanks to the excellent results obtained in the export market, where sales reached a record figure of 91.92 million litres in 2011, the D.O.Ca. Rioja managed to consolidate the previous year’s sales growth, offsetting the drop in consumption in the domestic market. The wine region has also maintained a considerable participation of added-value wines, namely barrel-aged wines, with total sales of 153 million litres, representing about 65% of red wine sales. This market trend in such an adverse economic context is proof of the great strength of the Rioja brand —considered a sure value by consumers in terms of quality and prestige.
According to statistics compiled by the Control Board, the total volume of wine sold by the D.O. Rioja in 2011 was of 268.9 million litres, representing a slight increase of 0.62% over the previous year. By type of wine, 241.2 million litres correspond to red wines (90%), 14.3 to white wines and 13.3 to rosé wines. With regard to Rioja sales by ageing category, Crianza reds were the top sellers, with 104.9 million litres —almost the same as last year’s record figure— amply surpassing young red wines (88.7 million litres). Reserva wines —an ageing category with significant expansion in previous years— sold 42 million litres (-3.43%), while Gran Reserva wines reached 5.6 million litres (+11.4%). In short, Rioja’s strategy of specialising in oak-aged categories required wineries to make significant investments but has allowed its wines to gain a foothold in the higher value-added segments and position itself ahead of competitors in foreign markets.
The D.O.Ca. Rioja is the clear leader among Spanish wine regions in both the domestic and export markets, with a market share of close to 40% of sales by volume, and even higher figures for premium wines. Spain still provides the main market for Rioja and the 177 million litres (-2.42%) sold domestically in 2011 accounted for 65.8% of total sales. However, stagnating consumption caused by a slumping economy has gained several percentage points for exports in recent years.
In addition to the tremendous efforts made to achieve increased competitiveness in the hundred markets where Rioja exports its wines, the policy of maintaining promotional investments in every country that is considered strategic has been instrumental in driving sales and securing a better position for the Rioja brand over the competition. Thus, after a stunning 18.5% growth in 2010, Rioja exports further increased another 7% in 2011, helping achieve record high sales abroad, with 91.92 million litres —34.2% of total sales. Sales growth was particularly significant in the UK, Germany, USA and Holland, which rank among the leading importers and account for more than 80% of Rioja exports.
However, the most dramatic increase in sales is to be found in China, which has become Rioja’s most promising export market for the future, ranking 10th among importers in 2011. Today, over one hundred Rioja wineries are exporting to China, where sales have grown exponentially in recent years —from 256,400 litres in 2008 to over a million and a half litres in 2011, doubling the previous year’s exports. Moreover, China is the country with the highest average selling price (€5.30/litre) of the top ten importers of Rioja.
In the U.S., a key strategic market for the coming years, sales have grown 43% since 2009 —from 5.9 to 8.5 million litres. The U.S. currently ranks third among Rioja importers, and it is the country with the largest promotional budget —close to 4 million euros in 2011— with a successful point-of-sale campaign implemented in recent years.
With regard to European markets, the UK remains very prominently the top importer of Rioja, with a total of 30.6 million litres sold in 2011 —33.3% of total Rioja exports and an aggregate growth of 28% in the last two years. Over thirteen million bottles are sold just in the Reserva category.
Germany holds the second place, with 18.2 million litres, a 9% global increase over the previous year, with a 14% for Crianzas and 29% for Gran Reservas. During the last five years, sales of Rioja have grown by 38% in the German market, doubling the volume of Crianza wines and tripling Reservas, which now add up to 6 million bottles. Switzerland remained in fourth place with sales of 6.5 million litres, practically the same as last year, and Holland overtook Sweden reaching the fifth place with just over three million litres, thanks to a 14% growth. The three countries that complete the list of the top ten importers of Rioja are Belgium with 2.3 million litres, Ireland with 2.2 million litres and Mexico with 1.9 million litres.