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Tejo's research-based export approach sees launch of new UK campaign

Published:  08 February, 2017

Portuguese regional body Wines of Tejo ramped up its UK focus on 8 February with the official launch of a UK campaign unveiled at London's 67 Pall Mall

Portuguese regional body Wines of Tejo ramped up its UK focus on 8 February with the official launch of a UK campaign unveiled at London's 67 Pall Mall.

The move brings in Sarah Abbott MW as wine ambassador, known for championing less well-known regions with high quality potential, and Co.Co agency acting as PR and UK press office, with a clear brief to focus on educating on and promoting Tejo wines to the on-trade and its suppliers.

Tejo, a rebranding of Ribatejo, is perhaps unique among emerging European wine regions, having employed the services of an external market research company, the UK-based Wine Intelligence, to identify six potential key export markets that would likely offer the best opportunities for this relatively unknown Portuguese producing region.

The recommendations from Wine Intelligence, presented to Wines of Tejo in February 2015, identified the UK as one of six markets, including Brazil, USA, China, Germany and Belgium, that would be most receptive to engaging with Portuguese wines.

Speaking at the event on the UK market, which is currently Portugal's third largest export territory after Brazil and China, Brian Howard of Wine Intelligence outlined the rational behind the ramping up of activity.

"Portugal is known as a wine source country by about 18.25 million of [the UK's 28.2 million regular wine] consumers, about the same as Argentina; recall of having drunk Portuguese wines in the past six months is about 4.25 million, just above Argentina," said Howard. "But imported volumes are just over one-quarter of Argentina."

Howard added that while the on-trade is facing a tougher time and wine consumption continues to dip by volume, consumers are spending up when out drinking wine.

And - importantly for less-well-known and emerging regions such as Tejo - those same consumers, along with restaurant buyers and their suppliers, are receptive to alternative styles and new regions, despite evidence of list contraction.

These and other related market insights convinced Wines of Tejo (CRVT) president Luis de Castro of the potential for growth in the UK.

"We started to work with Wine Intelligence three years ago, identified these key markets and have had really good results," said de Castro.

"Here in the UK we want to concentrate on the on-trade, because Portuguese wines in the on-trade are almost non-existent - you can see them on the retail shelves, but because of pressure on price, the returns you get are very low at that level."

An exclusive Harpers poll in 2015 found that the UK trade considered Portugal to be the most underrated wine region, while offering a good quality for value ratio.

The Tejo, with its wealth of indigenous (and international) grapes and styles, believes that it is well placed to capitalise on that position and improve sales.