Wine sales in the Italian off-trade channel (large scale retail) grew by 7% in value and 5.7% in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Data from the Nomisma Wine Monitor showed that still wines sales were up by 8%, while sparkling wines grew by 4%. Online sales exceeded €200 million and 'pure player' sites accounted for 85% of sales.
Medium-small producers, focusing on the on-trade channel and the HoReCa sector, were affected by the pandemic with turnover reducing to half in many cases.
Structured companies, such as cooperatives, saw growth as focus on the large-scale retail trade channel paid off.
Similar trends were also seen outside of Italy, which impacted foreign wine purchases, including Italian ones.
Only a few countries registered an increase in wine imports compared to 2019 and includes places where alcoholic beverage sales are managed by the State. Norway saw a 15.1% growth and Sweden witnessed a 4.9% increase in imports.
All large markets witnessed a drop in sales – USA (-11.1%), China (-26.7%), Japan (-15%), UK (-4%) and Germany (-3.2%), data showed.
There was a mixed picture for Italian wine imports, with growth in Switzerland (+6.1%) and Germany (+1.7%), and lower sales in the USA (-3.3%).
Imports of Italian sparkling wine were down in value in the USA (-7.5%), UK (-15.8%), Germany (-3.9%) and in Canada (-4.7%), but increased in Switzerland (+0.9%), France (+2.8%) and Norway (+5.6%).
Despite the impact of the pandemic, Italian wine imports did not collapse due to a 'multichannel' approach, which allowed the category to diversify.
Sparkling wines suffered more, due to profound changes in consumer habits following fewer festive occasions, the study noted.
The overall balance for top wine exporters in 2020 was negative for most countries: France (-10.8%), Australia (-1.6%), Chile (-7%), Spain (-3.4%) and Italy (-2.4%).
Only New Zealand bucked the trend, registering a 4.5% growth, mainly due to exports of bulk wines.