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Global wine industry gambles on North America and China

Published:  25 March, 2014

The USA, Canada and China are to remain top investment targets for importers for the next 20 years according to a report by Wine Intelligence.

A quarter of the 115 wine professionals surveyed for The International Wine Industry: Global Experts Vision 2034 report commissioned by ProWein to mark its 20th birthday, believe the USA and Canada are "safe bets for the future".

Around 23% of wine professionals would invest in China but only 10% would put over half of their future investment in the country by 2034.

Currently domestic wine consumption dominates the Chinese market by six bottles to one, according to Wine Intelligence chief operating officer, Richard Halstead.

However, 58% of those surveyed for the report believe Chinese wine will become an "export success".

Around 30% of respondents would invest in India or Latin America but almost none would invest over half of their money in these countries. Only 3% considered the UK and Ireland as a safe investment.

Distell's global wine development manager Carina Gous, speaking on a panel at the launch of the report at ProWein in Dusseldorf earlier this week, urged the industry to look at African countries.

 "Nigeria with its population as big as Russia along with Ghana and Kenya are emerging economies and should not be ruled out."

On a global scale, 66% of respondents thought that supermarkets and discounters will further dominate the sale of mass produced wine in 2034, with independent wine merchants and the on-trade continuing to trade in niche wines.

However, online sales will become more important posing a threat to "bricks and mortar wine shops".

The report highlighted that increased hostility and regulation by governments - similar to the attack on tobacco companies - would remain a threat to the industry.

Climate change will also have the potential to "significantly" change the world wine map with countries currently producing wine facing increasing difficulties. But cooler climates not producing wine may offer potential. 

Only 3% thought we would "grow grapes in space" by 2034.

Sparkling wine will continue to trend through to 2034 with rosé wine "taking a back seat" according to the report.

Natural cork will only be used in a minority of wines by 2034 believe 66% of respondents, and 16% said PET bottles will replace glass bottles. Eight out of 10 wine professionals agreed packaging technologies will become "significantly important for the way wine is branded and marketed over the next 20 years".

Direct purchasing relationships between consumers and wine producers will "become the norm", according to half of those surveyed.

But social media channels will continue to put the consumer in charge and many respondents agreed the industry needed to change in the way wine is communicated to the consumer.

Around 91% of wine professionals surveyed would spend more on communicating via the internet and social networks by 2034.

Halstead told that producers have the opportunity to communicate with consumers but it "requires a different skill set. Not one of selling but creating a community. That will be the challenge".