'A Very Good Year' for the Grape

Technomic report reveals wine leads adult beverage industry in growth

CHICAGO -- The wine industry outperformed spirits and beer with a 4.6% rate of volume growth in 2011, the largest percent gain achieved in adult beverage, according to Technomic's recently released 2012 WineTAB (Trends in Adult Beverage) report, which projects another industry-leading year in 2012. In total, the wine industry expanded in 2011 to reach 329.2 million nine-liter cases, Technomic's data shows.

Wine accounted for 10.5% of total adult beverage in 2011, up from 10.0% in 2010.

"The wine industry benefitted from several trends in 2011, despite a difficult economic environment," said Donna Hood Crecca, senior director of the Adult Beverage Resource Group at Technomic.

"Consumers now see wine as an accessible beverage suitable for all occasions, and the media is shining a positive spotlight on the category. In addition, Millennials are embracing and exploring wine. Finally, the level of product innovation from winemakers and marketers is helping drive consumer interest. Altogether, these trends made 2011 a very good year for the wine industry," she said.

More than 1,500 wine brands are tracked by Technomic, revealing the trends within the marketplace. Table wine comprises 92% of total wine volume and 89% of retail sales dollars. Both table and sparkling wine achieved volume growth in 2011. Vermouth and fortified wine both declined.

Domestic wine dominated the total wine market, accounting for three-quarters of total volume. U.S.-produced wines also comprise 75% of table wine volume. "Domestic wine expanded as consumers seeking value discovered quality wines at affordable prices from U.S. producers," said Crecca. Among imports, Italy grew share to 33.2% of imports, surpassing Australia to be the largest exporter of table wine to the U.S.

Among sparkling wines, domestic volume grew to reach 63.5% of the category. The largest portion of imported sparklers originated in Italy, which expanded its share of the market. French Champagne and sparkling wine volume declined slightly, although some Champagne brands did experience increases.

On the varietal front, Chardonnay remains the largest table wine varietal overall and the leading white wine varietal, with White Zinfandel ranking second. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot remain the leading red table wine varietals. Moscato, however gained share, driven by the traction it achieved with younger adult consumers, the launch of new products and the addition of the varietal to existing portfolios. Red blends also gained share among table wine varietals.

The bulk of wine sales occur in the off-premise channel, which grew in 2011; however, the beginnings of positive shifts in the on-premise segment also contributed to wine's expansion. Wine volume grew 1.8% on-premise, while retail sales grew 2.8%. The on-premise channel accounts for 20.4% of total volume.

E & J Gallo remained the largest wine supplier company, holding nearly a quarter of the total market volume. The Wine Group ranked second, followed by Constellation, Trinchero Family Estates and Treasury Wine Estates. The Wine Group achieved the largest increase in volume, followed by E & J Gallo. The largest percent gain was earned by DFV Wines (38.9%).

Leading Suppliers' Share of Wine in 2011:

  • E & J Gallo, 24.0%.
  • The Wine Group, 15.4%.
  • Constellation, 11.9%.
  • Trinchero Family Estates, 4.6%.
  • Treasury Wine Estates, 3.9%.
  • All others, 40.2%.

Looking at the leading wine brands, Franzia Winetaps, the range of wines in box packaging featuring taps, maintained its No. 1 ranking with 25 million nine-liter cases. The brand posted a 5.3% volume increase in 2011. Barefoot Cellars moved into the No. 2 slot on a 30% volume gain in 2011. Five of the top 10 wine brands reside in the E & J Gallo Winery portfolio.

Among the consumer insights emerging from the study is that females are more likely to consume wine in on-premise venues such as bars, restaurants and lounges, although male wine consumers spend more on wine per on-premise occasion. At-home consumption of wine increases with age.