Statistics Updates and Analysis for 2012

By Jack Brostrom
August 29, 2013

The Italian wine statistics at Italian Wine Central have recently been updated to the most current available data as of September 1, 2013. If you’re into statistics, you may be interested in a few of the highlights of the new information. Realize, however, that these statistics—all drawn from official sources—are still considered estimates and forecasts for 2012 and are subject to revision. In addition, the data in different tables may measure slightly different parameters. Nevertheless, the overall trends are enlightening.


International Wine Statistics

Vineyard Acreage
  • Italy’s vineyards, like those of almost all European countries, continue to shrink as underperforming vines are torn up to reduce the excess of wine production in the EU. The acreage in Italy has dropped by about 7% since 2008.
  • The order of countries based on vineyard acreage did not change among the major producers from 2011 to 2012, with Italy staying at #3. The United States is #6, but would probably be #4 if table grapes and raisins were excluded.
  • Increases in acreage from 2011 to 2012 were essentially confined to the New World and Asia.
  • Over the past five years, China and New Zealand have added the largest percentage of new plantings, although China has 15 times as much total acreage so the increase is more meaningful. China has traditionally been a producer of primarily table grapes, raisins, and distilling winegrapes, but the new plantings are increasingly Vitis vinifera.
Wine Production
  • As one would expect from the acreage statistics, wine production in most of the major European countries fell last year, while several New World countries and China had significant gains.
  • Wine production in Italy dropped by more than 6% from 2011 to 2012, and by more than 17% since 2010.
  • After a brief stint as the world’s top wine producer from 2007 to 2010, Italy has returned to its traditional #2 position behind France. However, the gap between the two was only a little more than 3% in 2012.
  • The United States remains firmly in control of fourth place, behind Spain.
  • The order of countries based on wine production was stable from 2011 to 2012 except for Argentina, which experienced almost a 25% reduction and fell from #5 to #8, behind China, Australia, and Chile.
Wine Consumption
  • In absolute terms (as opposed to per capita), wine consumption worldwide has seen slow growth for many years, with a total increase of about 5.5% over the past decade. Italy, however, has been one of the countries that bucked the trend, consuming some 18% less wine in 2012 than a decade earlier.
  • Italy used to rival France for volume of wine consumed, but it lost its #2 status to the increasingly wine-friendly United States in 2007.
  • The U.S. has been reported by some sources to now be the largest wine-consuming market in the world, but the international wine organization OIV still gives France that honor—by a narrowing margin.
  • Among the top 10 wine-consuming nations, the only change in the order from 2011 to 2012 was Spain falling behind Argentina into the #9 spot. Spain is the other major country besides Italy that has seen precipitous declines in wine consumption over the years, having been #5 as recently as 2006.
  • The largest increase in wine consumption from 2011 to 2012 was in China, up 9%, according to the OIV.
Wine Exports
  • Italy continues to dominate wine exports, representing more than one of every five bottles shipped to other countries. Despite a drop from 2011, Italy’s exports are up 17% in the past five years.
  • The big gainers in export volume in 2012 were Chile, which moved from #5 to #4, and South Africa, jumping from #8 to #6. Argentina—paradoxically, given the declining wine production and increasing domestic consumption mentioned above—had the strongest percentage growth in exports among the top 10.


Italian National Wine Statistics

Exports from Italy
  • Germany and the United States are Italy’s top destinations for wine exports.
  • Germany imports by far the most Italian wine by volume, although most of the imported wine is inexpensive stuff.
  • The United States imports only half as much wine as Germany, but considerably more quality wine. As a result, exports to the U.S. exceed those to Germany in terms of revenue.
  • The United Kingdom is the third most important market by both volume and value, although again the price point is relatively low.
  • Overall, Italian exports worldwide were down almost 10% by volume, yet were up about 8.5% by value thanks to the recovering global economy.
  • Export markets that saw big increases in 2012 over 2011 include Canada, Sweden, and Japan, all up by more than 25% in both volume and value. China, which is the target of intense marketing efforts by Italy (as well as by France and others), was up moderately, 17% by volume and 10% by value. The United States, meanwhile, was up 7% by volume and 15% by value.
Imports into Italy
  • Italy is not a big importer of wine, generally speaking. Its import volume is small compared to its export volume—and the majority of the wine it brings in is apparently imported in bulk, blended with other table wine, and perhaps exported again.
  • More than 80% of the wine imported into Italy in 2012 came from Spain. The amount of Spanish wine imported was more than twice as much as in 2011.
  • France and the United States are the other significant sources of imported wine in Italy. The French wine, at least, appears to be of a higher quality, since its value was about the same as 14 times as much Spanish wine.


Regional Wine Statistics

Wine Production
  • In 2012, half of Italy’s 20 regions saw an increase in wine production over 2011, and half made less wine than the year before. Overall, Italian wine production was down by a few percent.
  • The largest volume increase in production came in Friuli–Venezia Giulia, up half a million hectoliters or more than 40% over 2011. Sicilia was close behind with a 450,000 hl increase (11%) over a poor 2011 harvest. On a percentage basis, Basilicata expanded the most (67%).
  • Puglia experienced the largest volume decrease as the focus there continues to shift from quantity to quality; its production fell by 1.2 million hl or 23% from 2011, moving it into fourth place behind Sicilia among the regions. Veneto, too, was down by over a million hectoliters. The largest percentage decrease was in Liguria, with 40% less wine for 2012.
Wine by Color
  • After being almost evenly split between white wines and red/rosato wines in 2011, white wines took a 51-49 lead in 2012, continuing a trend that has been ongoing due to the popularity of Prosecco and Pinot Grigio. Five years ago, the white/red ratio was 46-54.
  • Significant shifts toward white wines were seen in Friuli–Venezia Giulia and Emilia Romagna; Campania, Lazio, and Veneto also saw increases in their white wine production.
  • Countering the trend were Puglia and Sicilia, which cut back on white wines. Toscana, already one of the most red-leaning regions, pushed its white-red ratio to 20-80.
Wine Quality Level
  • With the addition of several new DOPs and IGPs in 2011, the proportion of table wine in Italy dropped dramatically from 36% to 26% between 2011 and 2012. DOP-level wine, in the same period, increased from 35% to 40% of the total.
  • Most regions produced a larger percentage of DOP wine in 2012 than in 2011. Veneto, in particular, went from 30% to 48%, representing about 1.2 million hl more quality wine. Puglia and Abruzzo had a large boost in DOP production, as well. Friuli–Venezia Giulia and Lombardia were among the few that went the other way.
  • Sicilia—despite the Sicilia IGP moving to DOP status—produced no additional DOP wine, but about a third of its wine moved from table wine level to IGP. Friuli–Venezia Giulia and Puglia also shifted a lot of production from table wine to IGP; Marche, curiously, did the opposite.
  • Piemonte, Molise, and Valle d’Aosta had no reported IGP production (Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta have no IGPs), and Friuli–Venezia Giulia reported zero table wine production.

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