Vinitaly International talks business with key players of the German and Brazilian wine market

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Amongst the many market focuses organized by Vinitaly International on the occasion of its Talk Business Series during Vinitaly, the ambassador of Italian wine sought to highlight the differences and intricacies of two extremely diverse wine markets, Germany and Brazil, in the attempt to offer Italian producers and international attendees valuable clues on how to bring about an increase in Italian wine consumption in each of the two countries.

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Be authentic! People may not actually have a preference for your wine over another but just prefer yours because it’s got a story behind it

Amongst the many market focuses organized by Vinitaly International on the occasion of its Talk Business Series during Vinitaly, the ambassador of Italian wine sought to highlight the differences and intricacies of two extremely diverse wine markets, Germany and Brazil, in the attempt to offer Italian producers and international attendees valuable clues on how to bring about an increase in Italian wine consumption in each of the two countries.

The first of the two seminars, “The regional differences for Italian wines in Germany”, was dedicated to exploring how best to position and distribute Italy’s top wines by identifying the country’s regional diversities and its different sales channels in what is a highly structured and complex market.

Richard Grosche, Managing Director of Weingut Reichstat Von Buhl, one of Germany‘s most iconic estates founded back in 1849, gave a general overview of the situation for still wine distribution in Germany in a presentation with figures illustrating the breakdown of volumes for each channel. The panel then went into a discussion on how an understanding of the regional differences in Germany can help producers better target their market.

Kathrin Brunath, expert in Italian wines, identified different patterns of wine consumption in various areas of the country which she believes are based on a number of geographical, historical, cultural and even religious differences: people from wine growing areas are more used to having wine on the meal table so it’s easier to present them with labels intended to be combined with food. Furthermore, attitudes to drinking are different in Catholic areas, where people tend to be more pleasure seeking, as opposed to Protestant, Calvinistic areas where drinking is still frowned upon and consumers don’t trust their palates, making them more dependent on labels. This is evident when comparing tastings in cities with the same level of wealth: in Hamburg, people tend to trust brands and prefer labels while in Munich, people are more open to trying new wines.

There are definitely preferences in tastes between the North of Germany, where people enjoy fruity blockbusters, and the South, where people choose more elegant wines with higher acidity. Mrs Brunath believes that this may be due to the influence of climate. Another factor in determining the consumption of premium Italian wine in any area of Germany is the presence of Italian restaurants because they are still its best ambassadors. They must however be at a certain level as is the case in cities like Cologne, Stuttgart and Düsseldorf where consumers are more knowledgeable and sophisticated.

“In a market with its own rules the key is experiential marketing” concludes Mr Grosche before going on to add a simple piece of advice for producers “Be authentic! People may not actually have a preference for your wine over another but just prefer yours because it’s got a story behind it”.

In the second seminar “Brazilian wine market brief”, sommelier, writer and TV and Radio personality Alexandra Corvo explained the importance of wine education and the role of her own wine school 'Cicio das Vinhas' in San Paolo. She described the short history of the Brazilian import market with the country opening up in the early 90s to cheap poor quality Italian wines which have always distorted the Brazilian perception of what Italy has to offer. From the year 2000, trade agreements with Chile and Argentina have created competition with an inflow of good value wines that began to be imported with tax concessions from Brazil’s two neighbouring countries.

Both Alexandra Corvo and Andrea Batazzi, Veronafiera's delegate for Latin America, outlined the current state of the market: there will always be a demand for Italian wine in Brazil given also that the country is home to 30 million people of Italian decent, 5 million of whom live in San Paolo. This fact alone accounts for the consumption of 80% of imported Italian wine: 30% of distribution is through supermarket chains and high-class emporiums where consumers can find the top labels.

The main problem of exporting wine to Brazil is the high price for consumers due to import duty and a series of cascading taxes imposed by the Brazilian government on the bottle price: wine that costs €5 from the producer is going to cost about $45 off the shelf.

The government recently wanted to further raise taxes to protect and privilege its domestic production making it almost impossible to sell imported wine. Alexandra herself used social media to organise a boycott of Brazilian wines that was so successful it almost broke the supply chain and the bill was dropped.

People behind the campaign were a new kind of consumer, part of the new emerging middle class who now number around 100 million. This new generation knows that Italian wine is good but doesn't have access to it suggesting opportunities for Italian export.

Mrs Corvo summed up by giving some direction and encouragement to Italian exporters. Rather than competing with old varieties like Merlot that can be obtained at a cheaper price from other countries, Italians should cash in on the fact that Brazilians look to their country to lead the market with something new. Primitivo and Nero d'Avola at an affordable price could be a valuable alternative.

About:

Veronafiere is the leading organizer of trade shows in Italy including Vinitaly (http://www.vinitaly.com), the largest wine and spirits fair in the world. During its 49th edition Vinitaly counted some 4.000 exhibitors on a 100.000 square meter area and 150.000 visitors including 2.600 journalists from 46 different countries. The next edition of the fair will take place on 10 - 13 April 2016. The premier event to Vinitaly, OperaWine (http://www.vinitalyinternational.com) “Finest Italian Wines: 100 Great Producers,” will unite international wine professionals on April 9th in the heart of Verona, offering them the unique opportunity to discover and taste the wines of the 100 Best Italian Producers, as selected by Wine Spectator. Since 1998 Vinitaly International travels to several countries such as Russia, China, USA and Hong Kong thanks to its strategic arm abroad, Vinitaly International. In February 2014 Vinitaly International launched an educational project, the Vinitaly International Academy (VIA) with the aim of divulging and broadcasting the excellence and diversity of Italian wine around the globe. VIA has now also organized its very first Certification Course with the aim of creating new Ambassadors of Italian Wine in the World.

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Francesca de Stefani
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