Covid-19, geopolitical tensions and rising tariffs have weighed heavily on wine sales in most key exporting regions across the globe, according to a new global report by Rabobank.
But New Zealand "was the major the exception", the report concludes.
New Zealand wine exports thrived through the global pandemic as those locked-down in the Northern Hemisphere have reached for a glass of sauvignon blanc.
In the eight months to August 2020, the volume of exports increased by 10.7 per cent and the value by 9.7 per cent in comparison to the same period last year, the Q4 Wine Quarterly report said.
New Zealand producers had benefited from increased "home wine consumption", driving strong retail demand in key markets, RaboResearch wine analyst Hayden Higgins said.
"The rise in home wine consumption as a result of Covid-19 is supporting an increase in
bulk wine exports, particularly to the UK and Europe," he said.
The trend towards bulk wine purchases had also benefited New Zealand in the US — our
largest market for wine exports — with sales of Kiwi wines to the US increasing 20 per
cent by value and 8 per cent by volume during the first half of the year.
That was despite the overall value of wine imported into the US in the first half of 2020 declining by 6 per cent.
Higgins said sauvignon blanc sales continued to make up the lion's share of New
Zealand's wine exports.
To August 2020, sauvignon blanc exports were 261 million litres — up 13 per cent year-on-year and making up 88 per cent of total exports.
Exports of the 2020 sauvignon blanc vintage are also running ahead of the same time in 2019, with shipments of this year's vintage commencing in May 2020.
Higgins said New Zealand's wine export growth was notable given the Covid-19 environment has seen lower volume and value export sales among many of the world's
major wine-exporting countries.
The pandemic had created massive challenges for the wine industry, mainly due to the
difficulties facing the hospitality industry – with a significant reduction in consumption in
restaurants and other venues due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said.
"For many wine exporters across the globe, sales momentum established in recent years in key markets such as the US and China has stalled or even reversed," he said.
Other than New Zealand, Argentina was one of the few major wine-exporting nations that
had increased the volume of wine export sales in 2020.
However, their sizeable increase in wine sales volumes — up 48 per cent for the period January to July 2020 — had been achieved at a drastically lower average per-litre price, and the value of their export sales over the same period has actually fallen by 2 per cent, Higgens said.
Rabobank Group, headquartered in the Netherlands, is a global specialist in food and agribusiness banking.
According to the latest figures from industry association NZ Wine Growers, New Zealand wine exports are currently at $1.96 billion by value.
Our wine is exported to more than 100 countries and is New Zealand's sixth largest export good.