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Rioja sales to UK flat in 2013 but remains in top spot

Published:  19 February, 2014

Rioja sales to the UK were flat in 2013, but it remains the region's top performing foreign market accounting for one third of its exports.

The Consejo Regulador of Rioja saw its sales reach 277 million litres in 2013, which is higher than pre-recessionary levels. The 3.98% growth on 2012 is in part attributable to the return to growth of the Spanish market, which saw sales rise for the first time since 2008.

Red wines make up 90% of Rioja's total global sales, totalling 250.7 million litres, while white wines account for 13.08 million litres, down 9.4% on the previous year, and rosés account for 13.34 million litres, up 3.21%.

In terms of sales by category, red Crianza remains the best-selling Rioja with 101.5 million litres, up 5.19%, primarily thanks to growth in the domestic market. Reserva wines have grown 7.84% in foreign markets, while Grandes Reservas have grown 17% both at home and abroad.

A statement from the Consejo said the region had performed strongly in key markets, despite tough economic times,  "a phenomenon undoubtedly attributable to widespread recognition of the quality of the wines which consumers worldwide see as offering excellent value for money". It suggested that the oak barrel ageing the region is famed for allows Rioja to position itself at higher price points.  

Rioja's main export markets are the UK (up 0.14% to 32.79 million litres), Germany, USA and Switzerland respectively, and between them they buy 70% of the region's wines. The biggest growth in 2013 came from Belgium, where sales grew 32%, moving it into seventh place. The USA saw sales grow 5.4% to 102.1 million litres, and there are two newcomers to the top 10:  Canada in ninth and Russia (+30%)  in 10th place.

Spain accounts for almost two thirds of all Rioja's sales, and 2013 saw sales climb by 3.17% to 174.9 million litres.