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Chilean wine exports to UK fall by one third in 2013

Published:  02 April, 2014

The UK is still the second largest export market for Chilean wine, but volumes have plummeted by 34% in the last year, with value down 17%.

According to export figures from Wines of Chile, volumes have decreased from 667,828 9 L cases to January 2013 to 439,685 9 L cases to January 2014.

ChileChileChile has been hard hit by weaker currencies in other New World countries and its UK exports have suffered as a result.

But the news is not all bad - the recent Wine & Spirit Trade Association report showed that while Chilean wine has fallen back by 4% by volume in the off-trade, it has grown 2% by value to £436 million, with its average bottle price increasing by 5% to £5.20. But in the UK on-trade it experienced double digit decline, along with the USA, New Zealand and Germany, falling -11% by volume. Its average price per bottle also fell back by -12% to £13.67. The WSTA report draws on MAT figures from Nielsen and CGA.

Anita Jackson, interim UK head of Wines of Chile, told, that much of the decline was driven by weak currencies such as South Africa's rand, causing buyers to source entry level wines elsewhere. But she said "hopefully things will turn around very soon".

She added that the country faces problems encouraging consumers to trade up to more premium wines. "People perceive entry level Chilean wine as really good, but they're only paying £5.50 and don't want to trade up as they're already happy with the quality.

"The only way to do it is to keep hammering away and breaking down how much of that is the wine you're paying for," she said.

The generic body is still focused on its Carmenere and curry matching promotion, and Jackson says it will ramp up consumer evenings this year. Wines of Chile is now in the final year of its three-year marketing plan, focused on the independent and on-trade, and is running the boutique Chile "Pequeñas" tasting.

Jackson is undeterred by the poor figures, saying the UK market is expressing growing interest in Chilean wines. "We had a lot more visits to Chile [from trade and press] than ever before."

She added that many wineries are becoming more daring with plantings - including De Martino and its Cinsault; and Montes with its Grenache and Rhone style blends - "they've really embraced Carignan".

Jackson said the country is also opening up new areas previously unplanted with vines. "Ventisquero has gone ever further into Elqui and is planting Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, while Casa Silva has ventured furthest south to the lake district in Ranco. More are going out to the coasts too, and not just the classic coast lines - Paradones is now producing a completely different style of wine."