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South Korea closes in on US as most attractive global wine market

The United States has once again topped the list of the most attractive wine markets in the world, though its lead over #2 on the list, South Korea, was cut, according to the global leader in wine consumer research and insights report from Wine Intelligence.

In 2020, South Korea rose eight places to take the #2 spot, where it remains again this year.

The Global Compass Report is an annual study that measures key economic and wine market factors to rank wine’s attractiveness in 50 focus countries.

“The US’s strong economic rebound, partly funded by government stimulus, along with a standout year for wine sales, kept it ahead in our rankings,” said Lulie Halstead, CEO at Wine Intelligence.

“However, #2 South Korea is gaining fast in our model. Wine growth in the US is tailing off, whereas still wine volume in South Korea grew by more than +11% CAGR 2016-2020, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.”

Globally, the study shows an overall negative average score change compared with 2020. But while total global wine volume and value decreased last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be positive in some ways in certain markets.

For example, among the countries which experienced the most significant jumps in the study’s 2021 rankings were Norway, Sweden, and Finland as COVID-19 restrictions forced consumers in those nations to purchase wine locally instead of crossing borders to buy.

South American markets such as Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina also rose in the model rankings, driven by expanding consumer bases, the rise of ecommerce, and adventurous attitudes.

Conversely, tourism-dependent regions such as Spain, Italy, and France have fallen down the annual rankings as a result of the dramatic decline in the volume of wine that holidaymakers drink within those countries.

Angola’s economic troubles and South Africa’s alcohol sales bans during the pandemic put those two markets at the bottom of the ranking.

In many global markets, the immense surge in ecommerce during COVID-19 lockdowns has also been a positive for wine, creating an unprecedented growth opportunity for the category.

Survey data suggests that wine drinkers are committed to continue with online purchasing even as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

In the UK, for instance, a larger proportion of consumers have said they would be more likely than pre-pandemic to continue using online channels when purchasing beverages.

“While the Wine Intelligence Global Compass 2021 report explores several factors impacting the global wine industry, COVID-19 of course has been the dominant impact on the model over the past year. But even though global wine consumption has declined, fortunately what we’ve seen is that consumers have pivoted, rather than cancel, their consumption habits, transitioning their going-out behaviour into new occasions in the home or in outdoor settings,” added Halstead.

After the US and South Korea, rounding out the top-5 ranked markets in the study are the UK, Ireland, and Germany, which all saw strong wine volumes during the year.

The report notes that Colombia has joined Brazil, Poland, Romania, South Korea, and Singapore as a “growth” market this year, with Mexico and Russia falling from that category into the “emerging” wine markets category.

China, also considered an “emerging” market, fell 13 places in the rankings to #17. The Wine Intelligence Global Compass 2021 report and accompanying data tool serves as an annual reference guidebook to help wine businesses make informed decisions.

 

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