Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wine Drinkers Still Trading Up

Recent IRI data shows evidence that American wine drinkers are still trading up amidst poor economic conditions. Table wine dollar sales grew 5.7% and volume rose 1.5% in the four weeks to May 18, according to IRI scan data, with growth of domestic wines far outpacing imports. Value of domestic wines grew 7%, while volume was up 2.4%. Dollar sales of imports, meanwhile, rose 1.7%, while volumes declined -2.5%. It looks like the weak U.S. economy is taking its toll on imports as consumers opt for less expensive domestics.

Red and white wines remained relatively steady, with red wine value rising 6% and white wine value growing 6.3%. Volumes of red wine grew 2.6%, while white wines were up 2.5% in the four weeks.

VARIETALS. The same varietals that have shown growth in recent years continued to surge ahead, while Merlot and Syray/Shiraz remained weak. Dollar sales of Cabernet rose 7.7%, while volumes grew 5.9%, according to IRI. Chardonnay sales, meanwhile, rose 4.7% and volumes were up 3.2%. Sauvignon Blanc values jumped an impressive 13.4% and volumes climbed 6.6%. Not far behind, dollar sales of Pinot Grigio climbed 10.3% and volumes rose 7.1%. Once again, Pinot Noir demonstrated the highest rate of growth, with sales up 19% and volumes up 21%. Zinfandel grew 11.5% in value and 6.2% in volume.

Meanwhile, dollar sales of Merlot declined -0.2% and volume was down -0.1%. Merlot has lost 0.7% of dollar share in the four weeks and -0.2% of volume. Syrah/Shiraz saw value fall -5.1% and volume decline -4.2%, with share points down -0.4% and -0.2%, respectively.

REGIONS. California, Oregon and Washington all performed well in the month, displaying dollar sales growth of 6.5%, 20% and 12.1%, respectively. Volumes of California wines rose 2.2%, followed by Washington (8.5%) and Oregon (13.4%).

Out of the big three importers - Australia, France and Italy - only Italy showed growth in dollar sales. Value of Australian wines declined -1.9%, while volume was down -1.7%. French dollar sales declined -2.7% and volume was down -5%. Value of Italian wines, meanwhile, rose 2.2%, but volumes fell -4.9%.

German wines rose 2.5% in dollar sales and fell -7.2% in volumes. Portuguese wines grew 7.5% in value and 1.8% in volume, while Spanish wines climbed 4.6% and 1%, respectively.

Other than Australia and South Africa, dollar sales of new world wines performed well in the four week period. Argentina displayed the highest rate of growth (37.8% in value and 19.7% in volume), followed by New Zealand (25.2% in value and 13.2% in volume) and Chile (6.3% in value and -1.3% in volume). Dollar sales of South Africa declined -14.6% and volume fell


PRICE SEGMENTS. Meanwhile, higher priced wines continued to show promising growth in the four week period, indicating that consumers are still trading up. Dollar sales of the $20+ wine category rose 14.2% and volume grew 10%. Dollar sales of wines in the $15.99-19.99 range grew 14.1% and 13.3% in volume. Wines in the $11-14.99 category saw values increase 12.9% and volumes climb 12.4%. Dollar sales of wine priced $8-10.99 grew 9% in value and 6.9% in volume. Dollar sales of wine priced $5-7.99 grew 1.6%, while volumes grew 1.2%.

The following price categories experienced growth in dollar sales but declines in volume. Wines in the $3-4.99 range grew 1% in value but declined -3% in volume. Lastly, wines priced below $3 grew 0.3% in dollar sales but were down -3% in volume.

Wine & Spirits Daily