Wine businesses searching for growth opportunities in Europe should be thinking primarily about Finland, Norway and Sweden for the next few years, according to a new report from Wine Intelligence, published this week.
lmost 9 in 10 adults drink wine, representing around 13 million adults across the three countries, and between a 1⁄3 and 1⁄2 of these claim to have a “strong interest” in the category, according to the Nordics Landscapes report. The combined market for wine last year was approximately 33 million cases, all of it imported, putting the Nordics as a bloc ahead of Japan in the league table of wine drinking. While the wine markets in the three countries share many characteristics, there are marked differences between wine consumer behaviour in Finland, Norway and Sweden, according to the report. Beer remains the most popular beverage in Finland and Norway, while wine is top dog in Sweden. Within the wine category, nearly 6 in 10 Swedes say they drink rosé wine, compared to just a third in Finland. One of the main shared traits between markets is the adherence to a system of state-controlled retail monopolies, which prevents discounting and other price based promotions, and encourages involvement and education in the category through well trained staff and well-maintained merchandising. Maria Troein, Nordics Landscapes project manager at Wine Intelligence, said: “I think it’s fair to regard Sweden, Norway and Finland as three rare good news stories in a European wine market that has been suffering for several years as a result of tax increases and economic uncertainties.” She added: “the monopoly retail system can take some getting used to, and barriers to entry can be high. However the ultimate consumer is highly involved, willing to pay for quality, and quite brand oriented, which are characteristics that are increasingly tough to find elsewhere in Europe right now.”