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Eastern European wine boom at Majestic as consumers look for value

Published:  24 November, 2017

Eastern European wine sales are booming as consumers look for good quality value options, Richard Weaver, director of buying at Majestic Wines has revealed.

The northern European powerhouses are facing increased competition from less traditional regions such as Portugal and Eastern Europe that are growing market share. Portuguese volumes are up 58% YTD, against Spain at -13%.

Eastern European wine sales are up 279% by volume YTD. The company also revealed that Naked Wines Hungarian wines are up 52% this year.

“Most of the movements in price both at Majestic and in the market this year are driven by currency. As price changes post the Brexit vote kicked in during the early part of 2017 it caused some changes both in the way consumers behave seeking out value and the way we buy seeking out value,” said Weaver.

He said that Eastern European sales are “absolutely flying” because it is a good source of wine at a price that consumers want to pay. This is being driven by white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc from Slovenia and Gruner Veltliner from Hungary which are the “growth engines”.

In Portugal, the growth is being driven in part by Vino Verde but it was also about “juicy red wines” in a style that has a broad consumer appeal, Weaver added.

However, there are still some consumers that are more immune to the price rises.

“Burgundy continues to perform strongly for us but other regions of France are suffering where there is more ability to switch into other regions,” he said.

Italy is “bucking the trend” for the retailer due to the fact it focuses its range on “points of difference”.

“We are getting good rates of growth from red wines for southern Italy whereas in the wider market Pinot Grgio is still dominant,” he said.

Majestic is also predicting continued growth during the Christmas period with strong sales of magnum’s and fortified wines.

“Historically sales of magnums would normally be about fine wine as it ages well in magnums. But what is really working for us is the buying of magnums for more social events. We have seen growth in magnums of Provence Rose and growth in our top selling red wine Porta 6,” he said.

In regards to fortified wine Weaver said that the retailer had seen 25% increase in sales throughout the year. Majestic is predicting port and Madeira will be strong sellers during the Christmas period.

He predicts the continued growth of artisan spirits, as a future trend. Majestic is seeing growth in some of the brown spirits such as rum and brandy.

Weaver also said that a future trend for the company will be to seek out “less glamorous" regions of established countries.