From Which Countries Does the UK Import Wine?

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ten data blog07-04-2024

A thorough examination of the international wine relations in the United Kingdom in 2023 reveals a complex trading network and ever-changing market preferences. The country procures wine from a diverse portfolio of 68 international suppliers, yet its imports, whether in quantity or value, are concentrated among the top ten suppliers. These major sources account for approximately 97% of the total import volume and 98% of the import value, indicating the UK's heavy reliance on a few origins for its wine demand.

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Among these top competitors, France, Italy, Spain, and New Zealand not only held their ground but also experienced growth in the past year, highlighting British consumers' discerning taste for wines from these regions. While the following five suppliers experienced significant declines, with Portugal showing a slight decrease and entering the top ten, attention to quality over quantity became increasingly evident. In terms of import volume, only New Zealand, Spain, and France achieved growth, a remarkable feat in a year of overall import contraction.

In particular, Italy demonstrated resilience by limiting the decline in sales volume to below the average level, thereby widening the gap with Australia as the UK's primary wine supplier. Italy's supply volume slightly decreased to 2.955 billion liters, while Australia's supply volume plummeted by 10.8%, falling below the 2-billion-liter mark for the first time since 2001. France and Spain, on the other hand, reversed their downward trends and gained market share, ranking as the third and fourth largest suppliers, with sales volumes of 174 million liters and 142 million liters, respectively. It is worth noting that while France's import volume has yet to reach its peak, Spain's wine import volume has reached its second-highest level on record.

Chile and South Africa, as the fifth and sixth largest suppliers, saw their shares decline slightly, with sales volumes also significantly decreasing. In contrast, New Zealand's export volume grew by 10%, surpassing the substantial reduction in wine exports to the UK from the United States. In just three years, wine imports from the United States to the UK have decreased by more than half, marking a significant shift in trade dynamics.

In terms of value, France leads with a total value of £15.34 billion, setting a new historical high despite not reaching the peak transaction volume of the early 21st century. This is mainly due to a significant increase in prices over the years, with French wine prices rising by an average of 5.6% per year over the past 23 years. In stark contrast to 2000, the price of French wine reached a historical peak of £8.82 per liter in 2023, far surpassing other countries, with New Zealand ranking second.

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Italy's value rose to second place, growing by 4.8% to a total of £9.364 billion. The values of Spain and New Zealand also increased significantly, solidifying their sales records in the UK. Conversely, revenues from countries such as Australia, Chile, and the United States decreased by around 20%, while those from South Africa and Argentina decreased by approximately 10%.

Over the past two decades, there have been significant changes in the UK's wine import pattern. Especially for Italy and Spain, their market share has significantly increased in both quantity and value, reflecting changes in consumer preferences and market dynamics. Although France has seen a decline in quantity, it has become more dominant in terms of value, highlighting the premiumization of French wine exports to the UK. In contrast, Australia's market share has decreased in both quantity and value, underscoring changes in British wine consumers' tastes and preferences.

These shifts reflect broader trends in the global wine market, with consumers increasingly valuing quality, provenance, and value over quantity. As the UK's wine import pattern continues to evolve, one can glimpse the complex interplay of economics, taste, and tradition shaping global wine trade dynamics.

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