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Wine Consumption in US Down by 7.5%: Italy (-3.2%) Does Better than Average

Times are still difficult in the US, even in terms of actual consumption, as the leading first country in the world for wine imports (7.3 billion dollars last year) and wine enthusiasts (with 4.5 billion bottles uncorked every year). The Uiv-Vinitaly Observatory during the Vinitaly-International Wine Expo in Chicago (22-23 October) presented data analysis for sales in the “out of home” (on-trade) and large-scale distribution and retail (off-trade) covering the first 8 months of 2023. The trend gap in volumes consumed posted -7.5%, a result particularly arising from the difficulties encountered in off-trade (-8.3%) only partially offset by the result for catering and clubs (-2.1%).

Analysis by the Observatory – based on SipSource information – which monitors over 75% of sales through commercial establishments – highlights many differences in wine consumption trends among US wine lovers. 

Wine Consumption in the United States: Poor Performance for French (-14.5%) and US Wines (-8.3%) 

Local wines, which clearly lead the marker with 71% of total consumption, posted a downturn (-8.2%) slightly higher than average. Italian wines follow at a distance, covering 10.2% of overall demand and 35% of imported products; in this case, the glass is half full if we consider that the loss is no more than 3.2% and that the on-trade sector – the channel with the highest added value – even posted an improvement (+1.2%).

And while Chilean wines held firm posting just -3%, New Zealand confirms its growing popularity among American wine enthusiasts: +2% was the figure for the first 8 months, thanks above all to a fine performance in the catering field (+7.6%) given that Sauvignon Blanc is increasingly trendy on the US white wine scene. 

New Zealand’s progress – according to Italian Wine Union-Vinitaly Observatory – meant that Australia fell back by one position (-4.9%) distancing itself, at least in terms of quantities, from the market leader as regards value – France – which is experiencing significant difficulties (-14.5%), in off-trade (-16.8%) and on-trade (-8.1%) sectors alike.

Wine Consumption in US Down by 7.5%: Italy (-3.2%) Does Better than Average. Catering Speaks Italian with 44% of Imported Wines.

US Catering Speaks Italian with 44% of Imported Wines: On-Trade Buyers in the Forefront at Iwe Chicago

The Uiv-Vinitaly Observatory suggests that inflation, the raw materials costs and de-stocking are causing difficulties for the Italian exports to the United States. However, by segmenting data and looking at actual consumption in terms of volume, it appears that – in this context – Americans are very reluctant to give up Italian wines, even compared to US wines and those of other important producer countries. In particular, the horeca channel – the segment most represented among the 350 buyers attending the International Wine Expo – in the first 8 months of this year saw Italian wines sold through US on-trade equal to almost 44% of total imported wines, far higher than the share for France (13.8%) and New Zealand (10.7%).

Vinitaly’s trade fair debut in the United States is the outcome of Veronafiere’s collaboration with Italian Expo, the Chicago and Midwest Chamber of Commerce and the Ice Trade Agency. The Verona-based player – which organizes the main event in the world dedicated to Italian wine every year – for the first time became a partner of the International Wine Expo (IWE), scheduled 22-23 October in Chicago. Around 200 Italian companies are taking part in the event presenting more than one thousand labels at the business event, matching 350 specialist buyers arriving mainly from the Midwest selected in collaboration with the Ice Trade Agency.