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German wine exports to UK fall by one fifth

Published:  05 March, 2012

German wine exports to the UK fell by a fifth in volume terms last year, although the drop was mostly in the under £4 segment.

Nicky Forrest, head of Wines of Germany in the UK, said that German wines over £5 were in double digit growth.

The UK is Germany's second largest export market, worth 38 million EUR in 2011. While the volume of exports to the UK dropped by 20.5%, value fell by 14.1%.

Forrest said: "Nearly all of the loss is under £4, and a lot is under £3". The below £4 market has been in "very steady decline for the last 10 years", and will continue to fall before getting to a point where a net increase will start, she added.

The UK body is extending its Riesling promotion from one week to on month, from July 1 to 31, and is doubling the number of on and off-trade outlets which will participate. It is also holding a Riesling Summit on June 13 to talk about the country's flagship variety.

Steffen Schindler, marketing director for the German Wine Institute, said: "We're looking at [getting a higher] average price per hectalitre, for all German wine exports - we don't have to export more than we do."

He said the German wine export market is in a period of consolidation, remaining at 2 million hectalitres per year for the past few years. Last year's small vintage led to a price increase, but the challenge this year will be to maintain that higher level. "It looks good," said Schindler, "there is a lot of optimism among producers".

Despite the growth of markets such as Norway (up almost 11% by value and 6% by volume) and China (up 15% by volume and 19% by value), Schindler insisted there was renewed interest from producers in importing to the UK.

"Producers are seeing prices going up and acceptance in the specialised trade and gastronomy increasing - there is more interest in the British market from better producers."

He said German wine had "not completely shrugged off" its bad image in the UK, but its reputation was improving, especially as it gained plaudits from critics, including for its Pinot Noir.