Italian wine exports are expected to drop by 4% in 2020, with the sector seeing its first drop in exports for 30 years due to the COVID-19 emergency.
The forecast comes from Italian farmers association Coldiretti, and is based on Istat data for the first five months of 2020.
Last year saw Italian wine exports reach a historic high of €6.4 billion.
As well as the pandemic and difficulties in obtaining seasonal workers due to quarantine restrictions, the 2020 harvest has also been influenced by international trade tensions, such as the UK's exit from the European Union.
The UK is a major consumer of Prosecco, the most exported Italian wine in the world, and there are fears that the imposition of tariffs in the event of a 'hard' Brexit could decimate the sector.
In China, where the virus was the first to hit, consumption of Italian wine fell by 44% in value during January-May 2020, while in the UK, sales fell by almost 12%.
France saw a 14% drop, while exports to Germany and the United States fell both by 1%.
Coldiretti estimates that Italian wine production should reach 45 million hl this year, which is 5% less compared to last year, opening a head-to-head competition with France for the title of largest wine producer.
Wine production in France is estimated at between 44.7 and 45.7 million hl this year, according to the Statistics and Forecast Service of France’s Ministry of Agriculture, while in Spain it should reach 43-44 million hl.
Despite a number of weather anomalies this year, with African heat alternating with showers and hailstorms, Italy is expected to have a high quality vintage, although this is still dependant on conditions in the remainder of August and September.
Some 70% of total production will comprise DOCG, DOC and IGT wines, while the remaining 30% will comprise table wines.
Wine sales generate over €11 billion in turnover in Italy, while the sector employs 1.3 million people, across vineyards, wineries and commercial distribution.
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Branislav Pekic. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine