On-trade UK wine sales fall but consumers prepared to trade up

Wine sales in the UK on-trade have continued to decline in the last year, but UK consumers are increasingly open to spending more on wine, new data from CGA suggests.

Although total sales fell 2.4% year-on-year over the last year, volume fell by a wider margin, of 7.4%, suggesting those consumers who are eating out are prepared to spend more on the wine.

The new Global Origins’ Wine Insight report from CGA said that around two thirds of consumers (64%) chose Old World wines when drinking out, with Italy and France in the top spots, but there were “important nuances” in the market behind this headline figure.

New World countries for example had increased their share of the market, particularly New Zealand and Australia, and there was also growth in wines from England, Hungary and Romania, as well as increasing interest in more premium, niche European varietals such as Cortese and Albarino.

Mark Newton, senior wine category development manager at CGA, said that although the Old World still ruled the New, and Prosecco’s popularity boosted the dominance of Italy in overall sales terms, “that dominance may not last”.

He argued that all operators and suppliers should be aware of the subtle shifts in the market and that understanding changing preferences and drinking occasions would be “crucial to success in a very competitive market”.

He noted that while the value end of the market was still hugely important – around a quarter of prople opt for either the cheapest or second cheapest bottle on the drinks list – there was greater interest in more expensive wine choices, which a significant increase in sales of bottles priced over £35, and more than half (52%) of wine consumers saying they are willing to upgrade when drinking out of home.

“As consumers extend their knowledge of wine we see that more and more of them are willing to pay extra for it—so long as the quality is right,” Newton added. “Educating drinkers about countries of origin and the differences between Old and New World could help to unlock extra spending.”

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