nly three markets – Germany, Russia and Hong Kong – show little change on last year whilst Japan is in bullish mood with 70 percent of the trade expecting a rise in sales in 2012 and 2013, compared with just 43 percent in 2011, at the height of the Fukushima crisis. The other eight markets surveyed by Sopexa (Canada, the United States, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and China), which account for 85 percent of French still wine exports, are all less optimistic about wine sales this year and next than they were last year. However, whilst European markets are decidedly bearish about prospects for wines sales in 2012 and 2013, North America and China are noticeably less pessimistic.
Globally, the outlook is less positive for France than it is for some of its leading competitors: the industry is more upbeat about prospects for Italian wines than for French wines and countries such as Chile, Portugal and Austria pose a significant threat to the traditional backbones of wine portfolios that are France, Italy and Spain. Nevertheless, French and Italian wines boast the strongest overall image, scoring 4.4 and 4.3 out of 5 respectively compared with 3.9 for the leading American producer countries Chile, Argentina and the US. Sopexa believes that by nurturing its global image as a quality wine producer and focusing on its festive offerings and lifestyle aspects, France can consolidate its leading brand image.
In terms of demand, the most popular segments are expected to be varietal and entry-level wines. Although many studies have pointed to increased demand for premium wines – due mainly to the fact that in a recession consumers tend to stay in more but still want to treat themselves – Sopexa contradicts previous findings and claims that premium wines are likely to be less popular in the near future. Similarly, sales of organic wines, that tend to command a premium, are not predicted to grow in the short to medium term with just 29 percent of the trade forecasting an increase compared to 35 percent in 2011. Conversely, screwcaps are expected to continue to grow with 56 percent of respondents forecasting increased sales in 2012.