Wine consumption growth is slowing in the US and it's all down to the younger generations, according to Rabobank's latest global Wine Quarterly.

As the US is New Zealand's largest market for wine exports by value, the bank believed bold moves would be required to respond to a changing market structure - and an emerging consumer with different values.

RaboResearch senior wine analyst Hayden Higgins said one of the major drivers of change in the US market – not just for wine – was the rising influence of younger consumers.

"This year will mark an important inflection point in this shift, as the emerging generations – the Millennials and Gen Z – will overtake older generations – the Boomers and Silent – in terms of influence," he said in the report.


Listen to Hayden Higgins' preview of the soon-to-be-released Wine Quarterly on The Country with Jamie Mackay:

"And we'd expect to see the next 10 years become increasingly painful for wineries that fail to find ways to effectively connect with younger consumers."

The quarterly said the US wine industry had become accustomed to annual wine consumption growth rates of two per cent or more, and the decline in recent years to 1 per cent annual growth was cause for concern.

Rabobank senior wine analyst Hayden Higgins. Photo / Supplied
Rabobank senior wine analyst Hayden Higgins. Photo / Supplied

The US wine industry also had to adjust to a rapidly changing environment under the influence of e-commerce and evolving consumer preferences, according to the quarterly.

"While US wine sales via its two largest channels - on premise and grocery – fell in 2019, online wine sales grew by 22 per cent, and significant focus needs to be directed towards investing in building out the industries' e-commerce capabilities," said Higgins.

"Improving brand-building skills – in particular in relation to what we will call 'the revised Four P's of marketing': Purpose, Presence, Personality and Packaging – will also be essential to help reach a consumer that engages with brands differently."

Although New Zealand wines continued to grow strongly in the US market, local producers should take note of the changes said Higgins in the report.

"Despite flat overall US wine consumption in 2019, sales of New Zealand wines continued to grow strongly into the US market growing by 8 per cent in value and 14 per cent in volume."

"And for this growth trend to continue, it will be essential that New Zealand producers understand the trends in the US market so they can adapt to the changes that are taking place."