SOURCE: Italian Trade Commission

Italian Trade Commission

February 28, 2017 08:00 ET

Italian Wines: Strong Growth Potential for Wines Beloved by U.S. Consumers

VINO 2017 Event Showcased Diversity, Discovery, Distinction, Drinkability

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - February 28, 2017) - Current import statistics reveal the robust position of Italian wines in the United States. In 2016, Italy, the world's leading wine producer, accounted for 32.4% of the market share of imported wine in the U.S., representing nearly $1.8 billion in sales (6% increase vs. 2015), according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Italy maintained its position as the number one international supplier of wines to this country both in terms of value and volume, with a total import of 323.8 million liters. America's thirst for Italian wines has only deepened over the years. According to Wine & Spirits Magazine's most recent Restaurant Poll (2016), Italian wines accounted for nearly 20% of wines on the top ten lists -- leading all other countries outside of the US. Italian wine imports to the U.S. represent 25% of its wine exports overall.

Italian wine authority David Lynch shared his thoughts on American's amore for Italian wines, "American fluency in Italian wines is at an all-time high. Go into a wine bar today and people are talking about regions like Etna, the Valtellina, or the Alto Piemonte, which are far-flung ports of call even for wine professionals." Lynch, a sommelier, restaurateur, and Editorial Director of SommSelect moderated a roundtable discussion at the Italian Trade Commission's VINO 2017 event on February 6, 2017 in New York City. VINO, the annual leading industry tasting of extraordinary Italian wines in the U.S., welcomed nearly 1,000 wine industry professionals and media, showcased over 153 Italian wine producers and importers, and poured more than 600 different wines in the two days of grand tasting in New York and Miami.

The VINO 2017 roundtable focused on wine-buying habits of consumers ranging from millennials to baby boomers. Founder and CEO of Wine Opinions, John Gillespie, presented findings from a study commissioned by Vinitaly International in collaboration with the Italian Trade Commission. Research showed that 34% of consumers under 40 years old frequently buy mid-range-priced Italian wine -- bottles at $12 and above. Mr. Gillespie elaborated, "The continuing strength of Italian wines on the U.S. market was evident in the reported purchase frequency of Italian wines in comparison to wines from France, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and Chile; Italy led the imported wine county field." Sharing their expertise on wine buying habits were roundtable participants Leena Baran, Senior Manager, Import Wine Buying for Total Wine & More and Joe Campanale, Proprietor, Annona Wines, and Host of "In The Drink" on Heritage Radio Network. Panelists also included Stevie Kim, Managing Director of Vinitaly International and Michele Scannavini, Global President of the Italian Trade Commission.

In the U.S., white wines make up the largest Italian import category, with sales valued at $686.4 million. Red wines are a close second with sales at $620 million. In 2016, Italian sparkling wine imports experienced a staggering 33.7% growth and reached sales of $348.3 million. Vermouth and flavored wines also performed well with $54.5 million in sales (a 22.8% increase vs. 2015).

The Italian Trade Commission is dedicated to doubling down on its commitment to the U.S. market. During the roundtable session, President Scannavini announced the Italian Trade Commission's plans to support Italian wines in the U.S., "Italy has a solid market share but its average prices are significantly lower than France's and it still has limited penetration in many parts of the country. For this reason, the Ministry of Economic Development has instructed the Italian Trade Commission to study and implement the largest promotional project of Italian wine in the U.S., beginning in 2017, with an investment of 20 million Euros (around $21 M USD) over three years." He continued, "New York is the first stage of a broader plan for the promotion of Italian wines that will be implemented in the U.S. and in China, another strategic market for Italy."

Following the roundtable, VINO 2017 featured three seminars organized in cooperation with the Vinitaly International Academy: Rare Grapes and Wines of Italy; A Passion for Pink: Italy's Love Affair with Rosato; and Barolo, Barbaresco and their Crus. A grand tasting reflecting the diversity and breadth of Italy's offering showcased high-quality wines from the tip to toe of the "boot." For more information, visit www.extraordinaryitalianwine.us.

About the Italian Trade Commission

Since 1926, the Italian Trade Commission, with offices worldwide, has been the Italian government agency entrusted with the mission of promoting trade between Italian companies and foreign markets. The Food and Wine department, based in New York City, works on increasing the awareness of the Italian products in the U.S. by being the point of reference for trade and press and promoting the wines through educational events, informational materials, special events and promotions. Visit them online at http://www.italtrade.com/countries/americas/usa/newyork.htm.

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