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South American UK off-trade wine sales thrive

Published:  10 March, 2021

South American wine sales in the UK off-trade have thrived in the past couple of years, showing double-digit value growth, up 12% in 2019 and 24% in 2020 (year to 2 January, 2021), according to new NielsenIQ research shared exclusively with Harpers.

As a result, South American wine now accounts for 15% of the total UK off-trade wine category, an increase of 2.1% since 2018.

The growth has in part been driven by Chile’s continued moves beyond its established reputation for great value wine, gaining more critical acclaim and accolades for its premium wines and – as the biggest county of origin within South American wine – boosting value. 

But while Chile continues to be the biggest country of origin, it has seen a steady share decline. In contrast, Argentina has been gaining share, now accounting for £1 in every £3 spent on South American wine in the off-trade.

Confirming the premium trend, South American wine importer Condor Wines said that while it had seen growth across all wines within its off-trade-focused channels, the most significant change has been in wines sold within a retail price band of £10-£15, where MD Lee Evans said the business saw its sales double during 2020. 

This is backed up by recent data showing a definite trend towards more growth in premium wines for Concha y Toro, including its Trivento Private Reserve Malbec posting strong growth in 2020 – more than 80% in value and £8.7m in retail sales. 

“Even Trivento Golden Reserve is up 48%, with an average selling price of almost £12, in the same period. Similarly, in Chile the Marques de Casa Concha range is gaining more listings across retailers and varietals,” said Alexandra Price, category and insights controller at Concha y Toro. 

In terms of grapes, Evans says: “When you dig further into the data you see that Malbec not surprisingly dominates, but ‘other reds’ provided  the most significant levels of growth with blends from Argentina and Chile, Cabernet Franc from Argentina and from Chile, País and Carignan proving very successful. 

“When speaking to both large and small off-trade buyers I have noticed a growing interest for South American native varieties and blends, including the País from Chile or its relative the Criolla from Argentina and there is much enthusiasm for some of the Rhône varieties such as Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier and Roussanne,” he said.

This is echoed by Katherine Wilson, brand manager for Hatch Mansfield, whose South American portfolio includes Errazuriz, Zuccardi and Caliterra.  

“Consumers are more willing to step outside their comfort zone – especially with Argentina – and try different grape varieties. We have seen a growing interest in varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Malbec blends, and also whites from Argentina,” she said, also pointing to a greater interest in a more “elegant style” of wine, especially when it comes to reds. 

“Sebastián Zuccardi’s Malbecs, which have a fresher, more mineral style, and the Pinot Noirs created by Francisco Baettig, are all growing in popularity right across our customer base, from the entry-level Zuccardi Los Olivos and Errazuriz Estate Reserva, up to the super-premium ranges such as Finca Piedra Infinita and Las Pizarras,” said Wilson. 

See here for the full off-trade feature, which forms part of the South American Report published in the March issue of Harpers.