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Italian market report highlights country's pandemic performance

Published:  25 May, 2022

A new market survey released by Italian investment bank Mediobanca suggests that sparkling wine and e-commerce were the main beneficiaries of pandemic disruption in 2021, while Italy's beleaguered hospitality industry is in recovery.

According to the report, exports of Italian sparkling wine rose by 21% in 2021, outperforming still wines (up 12.4%). The EU accounts for over 41.2% of total Italian exports, with the US in second place (34.1%).

Interestingly, there was substantial growth in the emerging economies of Central and South America, with wine shipments rising 22.8% in 2021.

Predicting further success this year, the report stated that “leading Italian wine makers will see growth in total sales of 4.8% for 2022, rising to 5.6% for exports. Sales will be driven by the success of sparkling wines (total revenues up 5.7%, exports up 7.5%), whereas growth of 4.6% is expected for non-sparkling wines (5.3% for exports).”

The report added: “Large-scale distribution channels maintained their primacy, with a stable 35.6% market share. However, more tellingly, the on-trade sector recovered in 2021, increasing its market share from 15.6% to 15.9%.”

Italy also witnessed some key M&A deals in the wine industry in 2021, the top three being the Cantine Riunite-GI group, Italian Wine Brands and Botter-Mondodelvino (Clessidra).

In addition, Mediobanca's data highlighted the best regions for grower return on investment. In first place was Piedmont (8.2%), with those in the Veneto region taking second place (5.5%), followed by Tuscan-based companies (4.4%).

“Two trends have been further consolidated: the premiumisation of consumption, and the enhanced focus on sustainability. Double-digit growth was reported for both icon and premium segment wines (33.2% and 20.2% respectively), while lower levels of growth were recorded by the basic segment (8.7%), which accounts for half of domestic sales,” the report stated.

“Organic wines showed resilience, with 2021 sales up 11%, giving a market share of 3.3%; while vegan wines made significant progress, with sales 2 up 24.8%, to 2.2% of the total. There is also growing interest in natural wines (sales up 6.9%) and biodynamic wines (sales up 2.4%), both of which are now close to having 1% of the total market.”

Online retailing was another headline performer during the pandemic period; e-commerce sales rose by 132.8% in 2020, compared to 2019. The leading players in this segment are headed up by Tannico, which posted revenues of €37.1m in 2020, up 83% on 2019.

Meanwhile, delivered triple-digit growth (218.7%), with revenues now exceeding €30m, putting it in second place, as did Bernabei (160.4%) rising to €25.9m.