After brisk sales in 2017, the Italian bulk wine market has slowed

Wednesday April 11 2018 by Sharon Nagel

Supply is low but there are still wines for sale, depending on volumes required.Supply is low but there are still wines for sale, depending on volumes required. - Photo credit : Giordano
Luigino Lazzaretto of Intermediazioni Lazzaretto describes the current market for bulk wines in Italy.

Like in neighbouring France, Italy has experienced a reasonable amount of rainfall this year that has replenished its water table whilst cool temperatures have delayed vine growth, reducing exposure to spring frosts. This combination of factors bodes well for this year’s harvest. In the meantime, bulk buyers are proving to be fairly cautious. Italian broker Luigino Lazzaretto of Intermediazioni Lazzaretto describes the current market for bulk wines in Italy.


How would you generally describe the market for bulk Italian wine so far this year?

The bulk market at the moment in Italy is calm. Over the first two and a half months of this year, loadings have been a little slow. Most of the bulk trade and bottlers are worried at the moment because of the slow pace of the market. But in my opinion, the current situation is due to two factors: firstly, the prices have increased significantly and many importers and supermarket chains loaded a lot in December when the prices were still at previous rates and they replenished their stocks at prices for old contracts. Also, at the beginning of the year, the weather was not very good and this had a negative impact on consumption, especially in Italy. Despite the fact the market is calm, stocks of bulk wines are not high because sales were good until December and the crop was not large, so the amount of bulk wine available is not that large.


How would you describe stocks?

It is difficult to quantify the level of stocks. The data is not available regarding wines that are still for sale. In my opinion, the stocks total around 25 to 30 million hectolitres but I have no official data to back this up.


What kind of products are currently in demand?

The international varieties like Chardonnay, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Merlot have been in demand this year in the bulk market. Generally speaking, organic and vegan wines have been in strong demand. So too have entry-level wines with low alcohol content.


Are any products are sold out?

It depends on the quantities. For buyers looking for one or two tankers, every category of wine is still available.


Where is most international demand coming from and what are international buyers looking for?

A lot of international demand comes from Northern Europe, then Germany, France, the US and Canada. They are looking for base wines for sparkling, organic and vegan wines, entry-level red wines with low alcohol content and the international varieties.


How would you describe buyers’ strategies?

Buyers are tending to buy smaller volumes but more frequently. They are buying every month or every two months just to cover their immediate needs. This is because of the increase in prices. They hope there will be a normal crop next harvest and that prices will be lower than this year.


How are prices trending?

The cheapest prices for generic reds, whites and rosés are 58-60 cts a litre. Chardonnay is selling for between 85 cts and one euro, Cabernet-Sauvignon 91.1, Merlot 85 cts to 1.1 euro and Pinot grigio, 1.15 to 1.2 euros. The generic wines are double those of the previous campaign and the other categories are up 25 to 30%.


Could the relatively small crop in some Southern Hemisphere countries, particularly South Africa, be beneficial for Italian bulk wine firms?

Last year a lot of French and German companies went to South Africa looking for wines. South African wines were very competitive, at around 35-40 cts. This year they are looking for alternatives but there are no cheap prices anywhere in the world. They are trying to find cheap alternatives in Eastern European countries like Hungary, Macedonia and Moldova but it is difficult to find significant volumes there. Occasionally Italian companies ask us for a quote from Eastern Europe to find out the price of wines there but no contracts have actually been signed.


How do you see the following months for Italian bulk wine sales?

I think the next few months will be positive, especially if the weather is nice because that has a big impact on consumption. The World Cup in Russia this year should also have a positive effect, especially on sparkling wine consumption.




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