Wine, a golden market worth 45 billion

In vino veritas, the ancients said. And the truth is that the wine sector is worth a lot in the Italian economy. But also that the moment is delicate, between the international crises that can affect costs and exports and the emergence of new trends, such as that of “alcohol-free wine” which poses new challenges.

Vinitaly, the historic sector fair, now in its 56th edition, opens today in Verona. And it presents itself with data that leaves no doubt about the importance of production and the value it has. Let's see some numbers.

These are important numbers: production is worth 45.2 billion euros, 1.1% of the gross domestic product. To give a point of comparison, sport – including football – is worth 1.3% of GDP.

Sixteen billion euros is the turnover (9% of Italian Food & Beverage), 8 billion euros exports (16% of our F&B). Italian wines are exported mainly to Europe (41%), followed by the United States (28%). And an interesting (and potentially very promising) 6% in China, Japan and South East Asia.

Italian wine generates added value equal to 14.8 billion euros by activating various supply chains with a multiplier effect of 4.1 for the country: for every euro of value achieved by wine companies, 4 euros are obtained to the benefit of the national economy.

74 thousand workers are employed directly in the supply chain, while the estimate is over 300 thousand if the related industries are also considered.

A large part of Italian wine production is concentrated in the North (over 24 million hectoliters), followed by Southern Italy (approximately 20 million) and Central Italy (over 5.5 million). The region in which the largest quantity of wine is produced is Veneto, followed by Puglia and Emilia Romagna. In fourth place Sicily and then Abruzzo. Red wine drives production and consumption, but white wines – driven by “bubbles” – represent an important slice of the market (around 40%).

At Vinitaly all this can be seen very well, with four thousand producers, hundreds of importers, 140 exhibiting countries and first-rate political attention, with the presence of ministers – starting from the head of Agriculture Lollobrigida – to the Veronese president of the Chamber Lorenzo Fontana and the Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

If on the one hand there is this awareness, on the other hand wine is also affected by the moment of great international tension. And it couldn't be otherwise for a sector which – as we have seen – has an indispensable characteristic in exports and international projection. The war in Ukraine has arrived at the heart of the event represented by a bottle. It is a Tignanello (one of the finest Tuscan reds) from 2018 which was saved from a Russian bombing. It was recovered in the rubble of a Kiev wine shop and is now on display at Vinitaly, brought by the Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky. The war in Ukraine and, more recently, the crisis in the Middle East, affect the entire European economy and the wine sector is not immune: due to its strong vocation for exports, the increase in production costs caused by the high -energy and, more generally, for that situation of uncertainty that is bad for the economy. The 2023 data demonstrate this, showing a decline in exports. But Italy has defended itself better than other countries, our competitors in the bottle market. Italy's exports (-0.8% in value and volume) held up much better than France (-2.8% in value and -9% in volume), Spain (-3.2% in value and 4.1 % in volumes) and Chile (-22.4% in values ​​and -18% in volumes).

“Wine without alcohol is not wine”, declared Minister Lollobrigida peremptorily. Yet the topic of alcohol-free drinks exists and is held in high regard among professionals. Moreover, Istat statistics confirm that the consumption of alcoholic beverages persists but is constantly decreasing over the years. And whether it's health awareness, whether it's a fashion or a progressive change in consumption trends – you can't ignore it.

“We are witnessing new consumer behaviors and trends that seem to be looking with greater curiosity at new product categories, such as dealcoholized and partially dealcoholized wines, especially in the main wine markets such as the United Kingdom, the USA and Germany,” he explains. the president of Federvini, Micaela Pallini. “Although it is too early to say whether we are facing real new trends, we cannot ignore these signals coming from the market”.

And producers are therefore asking for regulatory adjustments that allow Italian companies to come forward also in this (for now) niche, overcoming shortcomings in oenological practices, labelling, commercial names. To avoid taking advantage of foreign competitors (France, Spain, Germany are already ahead from this point of view) and losing market share.