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NZ wine sales performing ‘ahead of trade’ in UK

Published:  07 February, 2024

The New Zealand London Annual Trade Tasting returned to Lindley Hall yesterday (7 February) on Waitangi Day, the national day of New Zealand.

The Treaty of Waitangi, first signed in 1840, played a major role in the treatment of the Māori people in New Zealand by successive governments and marked the beginning of a long-standing relationship between the UK and New Zealand.

Wine has always been at the forefront of that relationship ever since James Busby, New Zealand’s first-ever official resident, started planting European vine stock in the country in 1833. 

Today, wine is New Zealand’s biggest export to the UK and the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) agreed between the two countries in March 2022 will only further strengthen those ties. 

With a European FTA also soon to take effect and Dr John Barker, formerly of New Zealand Winegrowers, now at the helm of the OIV, the country’s wine should be well-positioned to export on a more global scale. 

Reflecting on UK sales, Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers said: “Despite a challenging 12 months for the trade, we have managed to maintain our price premium which is so important to us and our producers. And, most of all, we’ve retained our cachet, our reputation that has resonated so well with the UK trade over the years.”

Gregan’s comments were backed up by a series of slides, presented to the media before the annual trade tasting, using the latest Nielsen data.

The general outlook is one of continued growth for New Zealand wine sales in the UK, both in terms of value and volume, although this is unsurprising given that sales in 2022 would have been largely affected by a short 2021 vintage.

However, New Zealand wine is growing beyond its competitors – in 2023, New Zealand wine increased its sales in terms of value in the UK by 7.7% compared to 2.2% for the still wine category.

It’s a similar story for volume, with New Zealand growing ahead of the trade in terms of volume at 5.6%, compared to the still wine category, which was down 2.9%.

New Zealand wine is very much back on shelf in the UK but it’s not discounting its way to growth. Across the last three years, New Zealand wine has demanded a 25% price premium on the still wine category.

Furthermore, the Kiwis were second only to Italy in terms of value and volume contribution to the UK still wine category in 2023, with £37.5m raised from almost 2.5m litres. Unsurprisingly, New Zealand continues to lead the way for still white wine in value and volume.

All the optimism around sales will be slightly tempered by the forthcoming 2024 New Zealand harvest, which is predicted to be the country’s lowest in terms of yields since 2021.

Despite this, Gregan remains positive about the quality of the 2024 vintage.

“Everybody is feeling very upbeat about the forthcoming 2024 harvest. However, we are expecting it to be down, possibly significantly, on the last two years,” he said.