International sales of wine imports in 2020 totaled US$34.9 billion, making wine the world’s most valuable imported alcoholic drink. The annual value of globally imported wine increased 6% over the 5-year period starting in 2016.
Year over year, the dollar amount spent on the imported beverage made from fermented grapes dropped by -5.2% from 2019 to 2020.
The 5 most lucrative global consumer markets for imported wine generated almost a half (48.8%) of international sales during 2020. The highest cashflows are generated by buyers in: United States (16.9%), United Kingdom (12.6%), Germany (8.5%), Canada (5.7%) and China (5.2%).
Among these 5 leading markets, the lone year-over-year buying increase was the 1.3% acceleration from importers in Canada.
In many jurisdictions, wine can be easily purchased at grocers in addition to a myriad of liquor stores. Wine is therefore considered a convenience product for consumers.
Besides being a drink of choice at celebrations ranging from religious events to wine and cheese parties, varieties known as cooking wine are also used as flavoring agents in sauces or sweet dishes.
The following analysis focuses on key metrics measuring trends for consumer demand in the top 100 global markets for wine.
By comparing changes in consumer demand for imported wine by country, we can uncover the most attractive opportunities for selling wine and related products and services on international markets.
Wine Is A Consumer Convenience Product
Wine satisfies the criteria of a consumer good (also called an end product) created for consumers to buy in its final form for drinking or in some cases as a food ingredient. In contrast, products like turbojets are usually purchased by companies or government entities rather than individuals.
Economists classify wine as a convenience product, a technical classification for goods that are easily accessed and frequently purchased. Consumers often buy wine on weekly or monthly trips to their local wine, liquor or grocery stores.
Unless stored in climate-controlled wine cellars or special wine refrigerators for long-term aging, wine is a natural perishable beverage that can spoil exposed to heat, light, vibrations, or fluctuations in humidity and temperature.
When buyers follow strict precautions, wine becomes one of the few commodities that can improve in flavor and value during long-term storage.
But because the average vintage is readily available, wine is often consumed within 24 hours of purchase.
Wine is also defined as a convenience product because it is non-durable since it usually stored for under 3 years.
Just as there are many different vintages of wine, the range of shelf lives varies widely by type of wine.
- White wine: 1 or 2 years past printed expiration date on bottle’s label
- Red wine: 2 or 3 years past printed expiration date
- Cooking wine: 3 to 5 years past printed expiration date on label
- Fine wine: 10 to 3 years past printed expiration date on label
The prerequisite for storing wine is to use a cool and dark storage place.
Another attribute of a convenience product is purchasing the average bottle of wine requires comparatively less time to make a buying decision. That is, shoppers require less time and effort to choose a relatively lower-cost item like wine compared to higher-valued item like a car or a cellphone that they buy less frequently.
Sparkling wine accounts for almost a fifth (18.5%) of the overall total for wine imported in 2020. International purchases of sparkling wine dropped by -10.2% from 2019 to 2020, almost twice the annual decline for the broader imported wine category.
Please note that this article presents overall data encompassing both non-sparkling and sparkling types of wine.
Wine Imports by Country
The pre-sorted list below showcases marketing intelligence for the top 100 buyers of wine, ranked in descending order starting with the greatest annual sales amount at the 4-digit Harmonized System (HS) code level. For wine, the HS code is 1006.
Also shown is the percentage change in worldwide import purchases of wine from 2019 to 2020.
- United States: US$5,883,811,000 (down -9.3% from 2019)
- United Kingdom: $4,396,922,000 (down -0.6%)
- Germany: $2,949,214,000 (down -0.2%)
- Canada: $1,974,379,000 (up 1.3%)
- China: $1,827,259,000 (down -25.3%)
- Japan: $1,566,018,000 (down -13.5%)
- Netherlands: $1,481,683,000 (up 10.9%)
- Switzerland: $1,240,083,000 (up 2.3%)
- Belgium: $1,129,861,000 (down -0.1%)
- Russia: $1,092,549,000 (down -5.8%)
- Hong Kong: $968,174,000 (down -13.9%)
- France: $885,533,000 (down -10.4%)
- Sweden: $810,656,000 (up 4.8%)
- Denmark: $779,286,000 (up 6.4%)
- Australia: $600,363,000 (up 2.7%)
- Singapore: $540,614,000 (down -13%)
- Norway: $507,877,000 (up 17.6%)
- Brazil: $421,768,000 (up 13.5%)
- Ireland: $391,016,000 (up 20.7%)
- Poland: $367,661,000 (up 10.4%)
- Italy: $343,286,000 (down -8%)
- South Korea: $330,075,000 (up 27.3%)
- Lithuania: $270,818,000 (up 12.4%)
- Czech Republic: $270,443,000 (up 5.3%)
- Finland: $246,639,000 (up 2.2%)
- Austria: $225,051,000 (down -15.6%)
- Taiwan: $215,770,000 (up 3%)
- Mexico: $199,419,000 (down -26.5%)
- Spain: $193,703,000 (down -18.7%)
- Portugal: $185,961,000 (down -1.8%)
- Ukraine: $179,224,000 (up 22.2%)
- New Zealand: $145,093,000 (up 5.2%)
- Latvia: $138,564,000 (up 12%)
- Luxembourg: $125,160,000 (down -5.2%)
- United Arab Emirates: $102,615,000 (down -65.4%)
- Macao: $85,351,000 (down -27.4%)
- Slovakia: $83,787,000 (up 18.9%)
- Romania: $81,006,000 (up 15.2%)
- Estonia: $74,995,000 (up 1.2%)
- Belarus: $73,916,000 (down -2.9%)
- Colombia: $69,606,000 (up 12.6%)
- Malaysia: $66,523,000 (down -28.4%)
- Panama: $57,819,000 (down -2%)
- Israel: $52,060,000 (up 19.8%)
- Vietnam: $49,761,000 (up 68.6%)
- Thailand: $49,119,000 (down -24.9%)
- Namibia: $40,311,000 (down -9.6%)
- Dominican Republic: $39,947,000 (down -35.5%)
- Ivory Coast: $39,011,000 (down -2.3%)
- Kazakhstan: $35,880,000 (down -0.9%)
- Angola: $34,377,000 (down -37.7%)
- Peru: $33,874,000 (down -9.6%)
- Greece: $33,233,000FALSE)
- Paraguay: $31,682,000 (down -25.1%)
- Croatia: $31,192,000 (down -12.9%)
- Iceland: $31,095,000 (up 18.7%)
- Serbia: $30,717,000 (down -0.3%)
- Morocco: $27,763,000 (up 2.4%)
- Costa Rica: $26,362,000 (down -7.7%)
- South Africa: $25,239,000 (down -51.7%)
- Cameroon: $24,673,000 (up 15.6%)
- Hungary: $23,890,000 (down -2.8%)
- Philippines: $23,274,000 (down -44.6%)
- Bulgaria: $23,099,000 (down -0.7%)
- New Caledonia: $22,078,000 (up 8%)
- Togo: $20,708,000 (up 140.7%)
- Cyprus: $20,273,000 (down -30.1%)
- Malta: $19,795,000 (down -11.3%)
- Ghana: $17,871,000 (up 194.8%)
- Ecuador: $16,884,000 (down -25.4%)
- Bosnia/Herzegovina: $15,784,000 (down -17.8%)
- Kenya: $14,592,000 (down -31.1%)
- Slovenia: $14,091,000 (down -0.2%)
- Nigeria: $13,241,000 (down -15.4%)
- India: $13,173,000 (down -39.4%)
- Bermuda: $13,031,000 (down -9.9%)
- Guatemala: $12,958,000 (down -15.4%)
- Andorra: $12,812,000 (down -20.4%)
- Chile: $12,783,000 (up 15%)
- French Polynesia: $12,570,000 (down -13.8%)
- Albania: $12,416,000 (up 3.9%)
- Turkey: $12,197,000 (down -41.4%)
- Qatar: $11,936,000 (up 93.9%)
- Uruguay: $11,294,000 (down -5%)
- Venezuela: $10,320,000 (up 38.3%)
- Cayman Islands: $10,302,000 (down -18.9%)
- Equatorial Guinea: $9,690,000 (down -11.6%)
- Gabon: $9,394,000 (down -19.8%)
- Mauritius: $9,293,000 (down -42.3%)
- Botswana: $9,133,000 (down -19%)
- Tanzania: $7,943,000 (down -29.7%)
- Burkina Faso: $7,784,000 (up 129.5%)
- Barbados: $7,753,000 (down -23.8%)
- Congo: $7,350,000 (up 80.1%)
- Mozambique: $7,163,000 (up 27.8%)
- Bahamas: $7,129,000 (down -55.3%)
- Algeria: $7,094,000 (up 4.7%)
- Aruba: $6,985,000 (down -45.6%)
- Montenegro: $6,725,000 (down -4.3%)
- Papua New Guinea: $5,869,000 (down -27%)
Among the above 100 global markets, 38 countries increased their spending on imported wine. The 6 strongest gains year over year were posted by Ghana (up 194.8%), Togo (up 140.7%), Burkina Faso (up 129.5%), Qatar (up 93.9%), Congo (up 80.1%) and Vietnam (up 68.6%).
Leading the 62 decliners year over year was the United Arab Emirates (down -65.4%). Significant reductions in wine imports by value were also experienced by Bahamas (down -55.3%), South Africa (down -51.7%), Aruba (down -45.6%), Philippines (down -44.6%), Mauritius (down -42.3%) and Turkey (down -41.4%).
Richest Global Markets for Imported Wine
Illustrated below is the market demand for wine imported during 2020 by 30 of world’s richest countries in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person, according to RichestCountryReports.com.
Countries are listed in descending order starting with the wealthiest economy in terms of GDP per capita.
- Luxembourg: $125.2 million (Down -5.2%)
- Singapore: $540.6 million (Down -13%)
- Ireland: $391 million (Up 20.7%)
- Qatar: $11.9 million (Up 93.9%)
- Macao: $85.4 million (Down -27.4%)
- Switzerland: $1.2 billion (Up 2.3%)
- Norway: $507.9 million (Up 17.6%)
- United States: $5.9 billion (Down -9.3%)
- Brunei Darussalam: $123,000 (Up 69.9%)
- Hong Kong: $968.2 million (Down -13.9%)
- Denmark: $779.3 million (Up 6.4%)
- Netherlands: $1.5 billion (Up 10.9%)
- United Arab Emirates: $102.6 million (Down -65.4%)
- Taiwan: $215.8 million (Up 3%)
- Iceland: $31.1 million (Up 18.7%)
- Austria: $225.1 million (Down -15.6%)
- Germany: $2.9 billion (Down -0.2%)
- Sweden: $810.7 million (Up 4.8%)
- Australia: $600.4 million (Up 2.7%)
- Belgium: $1.1 billion (Down -0.1%)
- Finland: $246.6 million (Up 2.2%)
- Canada: $2 billion (Up 1.3%)
- Bahrain: $3.2 million (Down -48.2%)
- France: $885.5 million (Down -10.4%)
- United Kingdom: $4.4 billion (Down -0.6%)
- South Korea: $330.1 million (Up 27.3%)
- Malta: $19.8 million (Down -11.3%)
- Japan: $1.6 billion (Down -13.5%)
- New Zealand: $145.1 million (Up 5.2%)
- Italy: $343.3 million (Down -8%)
Sixteen among the above richest economies spent more on imported wine in 2020 compared to 2019. The top gainers were Qatar (up 93.9%), Brunei Darussalam (up 69.9%), South Korea (up 27.3%), Ireland (up 18.7%) and Norway (up 17.6%).
Registering annual declines were 5 relatively wealthy importing nations. These loss-leaders were United Arab Emirates (down -65.4%), Bahrain (down -48.2%), Macao (down -27.4%), Austria (down -15.6%) and Hong Kong (down -13.9%).
Enduring the greatest declines were United Arab Emirates (down -57%), Singapore (down -45%), Hong Kong (down -26.4%), New Zealand (down -24.7%), Bahrain (down -24.4%), Canada (down -23.1%) and United Kingdom (down -20.9%).
Top Wine Importers by Cubic Meter
Shifting the focus to product quantity instead of dollar value, the United States imported an estimated 1.231 million cubic meters of wine in 2020.
The latest annual cubic meters score for wine imported into America represents a -0.1% drop from the 1.232 million cubic meters of imported wine bought in 2019 from international suppliers.
Like the United States, the following 7 countries also measure imported wine quantities in cubic meters rather than tons.
- Canada: 449,872 cubic meters of wine in 2020 (up 8.2% from 2019)
- Japan: 285,464 (down -9.2%)
- Australia: 102,340 (up 18.3%)
- South Africa: 35,533 (down -86.6%)
- Singapore: 30,573 (down -17%)
- Thailand: 12,510 (down -19.5%)
- Malaysia: 9,195 (down -23.6%)
Only 2 of these markets increased quantities of wine bought on international markets from 2019 to 2020, namely Australia and Canada.
US Demand for Imported Wine
In 2020, the United States of America served as the world’s biggest market for imported wine as measured by total sales in US dollars. America’s top 5 wine suppliers (Italy, France, New Zealand, Australia, Spain) accounted for roughly 85% of US purchases of wine from international markets.
The following countries benefited the most from selling imported wine into the US in 2020.
- Italy: US$2 billion (34.3% of US total)
- France: $1.8 billion (30.1%)
- New Zealand: $508.3 million (8.6%)
- Australia: $344.3 million (5.9%)
- Spain: $333.3 million (5.7%)
- Argentina: $267.4 million (4.5%)
- Chile: $246.2 million (4.2%)
- Portugal: $120.3 million (2%)
- Germany: $69.9 million (1.2%)
- South Africa: $54 million (0.9%)
- Canada: $39.8 million (0.7%)
The above 11 suppliers sold 98.2% of the $5.9 billion worth of imported wine delivered to the United States during 2020.
Year over year, only New Zealand (up 5.4%) and Portugal (up 2.3%) realized higher revenues in 2020 compared to wine shipped to American buyers one year earlier.
There are 3 American states for which wine ranks among their top 25 imported commodities: New York ($725.3 million worth of wine imports in 2020), New Jersey ($704.8 million) and Connecticut ($132.4 million).
In addition, America’s federal District of Columbia bought $15.5 million worth of imported wine during 2020 while its territory the US Virgin Islands spent $1.7 million on wine imports.
Unit Costs by Key US Wine Suppliers
The United States of America paid a wide range of unit costs per cubic meter of imported wine in 2020, depending on the wine shipper’s country of origin.
Below, you will find the average unit price that American importers paid for 11 of the top wine suppliers to the US in 2020. They are presented in descending order starting with the nations that supplied the highest total dollar value worth of wine.
- Italy: US$5,888 per cubic meter (down -0.7% from 2019)
- France: $11,126 per cubic meter (down -8.8%)
- New Zealand: $6,323 per cubic meter (up 4.7%)
- Australia: $2,571 per cubic meter (down -1%)
- Spain: $5,196 per cubic meter (down -0.9%)
- Argentina: $4,443 per cubic meter (down -0.4%)
- Chile: $1,673 per cubic meter (down -10.1%)
- Portugal: $4,786 per cubic meter (down -10%)
- Germany: $4,112 per cubic meter (down -20.6%)
- South Africa: $3,028 per cubic meter (down -37.5%)
- Canada: $242 per cubic meter (down -21.2%)
The lowest unit cost per cubic meter of wine imported into the United States belongs to Canada.
America pays the highest unit price per cubic meter of wine to suppliers in France and New Zealand.
The average unit cost dropped from 2019 to 2020 for 10 of the above wine suppliers to the US. The only anomaly was for wine from New Zealand, which gained in unit price paid by 4.7%.
World’s Biggest Wine Companies
Below you will find the top 10 largest multinational companies that sell wine both domestically and on international markets.
The list was ranked in descending order based on the highest company revenues in 2020 according to Insider Monkey. Please note that those revenues include cashflows from other product lines beyond wine.
- COFCO Group (Beijing, China): US$72 billion
- Heineken (Amsterdam, Netherlands): $26.8 billion
- Altria Group (Richmond, US): $20.5 billion
- Diageo (London, UK): $16.8 billion
- Castel Group (Bordeaux, France): $16.6 billion
- Pernod Ricard SA (Paris, France): $10.2 billion
- Thai Beverage PCL (Bangkok, Thailand): $8.6 billion
- Constellation Brands Inc (Victor, US): $8.3 billion
- E & J Gallo Winery (Modesto, US): $5 billion
- Brown-Forman Corporation (Louisville, US): $3.4 billion
Shown within brackets is the city which serves as the global headquarters for each wine-producing conglomerate.
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Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.
BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition.
Forbes, The Forbes Global 2000 List
Healthline, How Long Does Wine Last?.
Insider Monkey, 5 Biggest Wine Companies in the World.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Richest Country Reports, Top 50 Richest Countries by GDP per Capita.
United States Census Bureau, Foreign Trade State Data.
USITC DataWeb, US Merchandise Trade: Imports for Consumption.
World’s Top Exports, Wine Exports by Country.