World News 05/05/2014

California wine shipments rise

California wine shipments within the US were 215m cases in 2013, up 3% from the previous year, with an estimated retail value of $23.1bn, up 5%, according to the California Wine Institute

California wine sales to all markets, both domestic and international, increased 3% by volume to 258m cases in 2013.

"With two record wine grape harvests in 2012 and 2013, California wineries were able to meet consumer demand, and these recent vintages are receiving high praise worldwide," said Wine Institute president and CEO Robert Koch.

Wine industry consultant Jon Fredrikson of Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates in Woodside added: "In 2013 wineries gradually released the highly-acclaimed wines from the large 2012 California harvest, offsetting the slowdown in American wine market growth due to short vintages in 2010 and 2011 and continuing soft economic conditions. In response to these market factors, California wineries focused on sales of premium table wines priced at $10 and above, which increased by 9% in volume and made up nearly half of winery revenues."

Fredrikson explained that 2013 remained highly competitive. The US Tax and Trade Bureau approved nearly 99,000 wine label registrations, the majority of these from foreign producers, which crowded trade channels and vied for consumer attention and shelf space. In addition, over the past five years the number of alcohol production permits increased by 4,100, up 47%, not only for new wineries, but for craft breweries, distilleries and cider producers, expanding the product mix offerings.

The large number of beverage alcohol products continued to squeeze distribution channels, and many small- and medium-sized wineries looked to direct-to-consumer sales through tasting rooms, wine clubs, online marketing and other direct sales channels, using social media and other digital communications to reach out to consumers.

Brick and mortar retail outlets selling wine continued to increase, expanding by 62,000 locations over the last five years, up 12% to 550,000 outlets. Retailers are increasing their coverage with more sales locations, making wine more accessible to US consumers than ever before.

di S. C.