New York, NY (September 17, 2020) — On Friday, September 18, Chile celebrates its national Independence Day. The country’s wine exporters can also raise a glass to a recent sales turnaround: Reversing a ten-year downward trend, Chilean wines sales are up in the U.S.
According to the latest import data, Chile is the seventh largest source of imported wine in the U.S., and the only one of the top seven to experience an increase in U.S. sales in the first quarter of 2020. Comparing year-to-year sales, Chile sold 1,352,111 x 9L cases in the U.S in the 12 months ending June 30, 2020, representing a 40.68% increase in volume and translating into a 36.57% uptick in dollars, ($13,823,000 to $18,878,000) over the previous 12 months, concluding June 30, 2019. While bulk wines account for roughly two-thirds of that volume, bottle sales have risen by 2% in volume, and 13% in value.
Wines of Chile USA’s New York-based Executive Director Julio Alonso is cautiously optimistic: “In the current environment, our historic strength in the off-premise category, accounting for over 70% of our sales, is an advantage. As consumers move to buying online and the economic situation remains in flux, it’s unclear how all these variables will behave moving forward. But with our broad range of wines spanning all price points, we are confident that Chilean wines are on the right track in the U.S. marketplace.”
Red wines continue to drive sales, led by red blends and Cabernet Sauvignon. Chile has also done well in three “on-trend” categories: rosés, bag-in-box, and Mediterranean wines. The country’s rosé sales have more than doubled (up 114%) here in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020, while bag-in-box exports have grown by over 19% in volume. Lastly, Mediterranean varieties like País and Carignan are not only catching the attraction of the trade and wine experts, but also gaining space in big box supermarkets, channels less known for those wines in the past, according to Alonso.
The leading driver for Chile’s wine sales in the U.S. continues to be the country’s larger, well-established players with broad nationwide U.S. distribution, who are benefitting from consumer reliance on “tried-and-trusted,” familiar and reliable brands during the pandemic. The current pricing sweet spot for Chile in the U.S. is $10-$20, with the biggest growth in the $11-$15 category. According to Alonso, “This is where Chile can excel and showcase the best value-to-quality performance, whatever the origin.” This relatively broad pricing range has also enabled the Chilean category to absorb with relative ease the average downward 1% pricing decrease affecting both domestic and imported wines seen in the first semester of this year.
Chile is poised to benefit from two other trends. In a new Wine Opinions survey, 48% of consumers who regularly spend over $20 a bottle reported an increase in their average weekly wine consumption. With great values at the $20-plus end of the spectrum, Chile looks to attract new converts. During COVID-19, the data also shows that the largest consumers of wine have been millennials. While millennials drink less wine than the previous generation, when they do, they are more adventurous, and willing to try new varieties such as País — and they care about health and the environment. Eighty percent of Chilean wines exported are sustainable and verified as such. Notes Alonso: “Chile is a world leader in sustainability from vineyard to table and Wines of Chile has been instrumental in settings standards in this area.” The Wines of Chile Responsibility Code covers: (1) sustainable technical management of vineyards, (2) winery and bottling practices, (3) safety and social responsibility covering workers, nearby communities and even customers, and (4) Sustainable Wine Tourism, a recently launched initiative.
About Wines of Chile: The mission of Wines of Chile is to promote the quality and image of Chilean wines throughout the world. With offices in the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil and Chile, the organization, working closely with ProChile, develops and offers promotional and educational programs. Its members represent over 75% percent of Chile’s bottled wine exports.
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