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UK tops value increase for German wine exports

Published:  12 March, 2019

Quality Riesling appears to be on a roll, with the average price paid for exported German wine breaking records in 2018, while UK consumer thirst drove the biggest value increase of any export territory, according to German Wine Institute (DWI) figures.

In 2018 the average price per litre of exported German wine rose by 15 cents to €3.04, breaking the €3 barrier for the first time, with value exports to the UK up for a second year in a row, climbing 34% to €27 million.

However, these figures are set against a fall in total export volume of 5% during 2018, partly attributed to a low yielding 2017 harvest, with the value of German wine exports remaining fairly consistent with the typical annual average at €307 million.

Commenting on the figures, which saw the UK overtake Norway to become the third single largest export territory - behind USA and the combined purchasing power of the Scandinavian monopolies - DWI managing director Monika Reule played down the volume decline, highlighting a focus on quality.

“For many years now, German wine exporters have focused increasingly on quality rather than quantity, which is actually more in line with our role as a relatively small wine export nation,” said Reule.

“The continuous increase in average prices of the last few years shows that we are on the right track to higher added value in the export business.”

The DWI said no one factor was responsible for driving this value growth in the UK, but that a combination of fallout of the lowest price segment and the growth of smaller retailers, able to hand sell the wines, had contributed, with a significant slowing of the decline of German sales over the past 10 years as indies take up the baton. 

German exports to Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden and Finland) in 2018 rose to €49 million, contrasting with a 10% volume and 9% value drop to the USA, which now accounts for just under a quarter of total German wine export revenue.

Exports to China also fell, by 11% to €17 million, although the country held on to its position as the fifth most important export market for Germany.

With the elimination of wine import tariffs by Japan as part of the EU-Japan JEFTA free trade agreement, the DWI has identified that market as one that should return to growth following a dip in imports in 2018.

With regard to the UK market, the growth of interest in German Riesling (and Pinot Noir, though from a much smaller base) appears to be born out by retailers, with Majestic reporting a 63% rise in the combined sales of dry Rieslings from Germany and Austria in 2018, citing this as one of the key trends to look out for in 2019.