At a time when Italian wine exports are booming in China and Russia, Vitignoitalia, a major wine trade fair, believes the future still lies in Italy's traditional markets. At its stunning location in Castel dell'Ovo in the Bay of Naples, the organisation will host its Italian wines fair in May of next year for a number of important retailers from the United States, the top wine market in the world.
For the first time, part of the event will be dedicated to private meetings between producers and retailers.
"There has been so much talk lately of BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and their great potential," Vitignoitalia President Chicco De Pasquale told ANSA at a fair preview.
"But I am increasingly convinced that our consolidated markets are giving much more interesting performances and will give great impulse to our wine exports in the next five years.
"The great novelty of our fair is the large increase of buyers from our traditional markets, especially the United States, as well as Germany, Britain and Switzerland. "In fact we have decided to allocate private areas for them to meet Italian producers".
Wine exports rose 14 per cent in value and 15.4 per cent in volume in the first six months of 2011 compared with the same period last year and were worth two billion euros, according to data from Italian trade group Federvini. Italy sold almost 50 per cent of its output abroad in 2010.
Export demand for Italian wine has been strong this year with Italy's traditional markets and sales to the United States are expected to rise some 10 per cent in 2011.
Italian wine exports to the US rose 11.5 per cent to 827.3 million euros last year, while those to Russia grew almost 60 per cent to 104 million euros and sales to China more than doubled to 40.7 million euros, according to Federvini data.
Italy's domestic market has, on the other hand, significantly weakened. Wine consumption per capita has fallen to 40 litres in 2011 compared to the 100 litres of four decades ago.
"The English-speaking market is the easiest to approach though it is the most demanding since it is well acquainted with our culture and wines. Emerging markets are difficult as consumers don't know wines and need to be informed of our great heritage," said De Pasquale. "That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep investing in emerging markets, which offer great potential, including smaller countries like South Korea, which is very receptive to quality wines, like Japan".
During the preview, Vitignoitalia organised a number of tasting events across Naples to promote Italian quality wines at hip local stores.
"One recent positive sign from our domestic market is the growing number of wine associations being created across Italy to organise tastings as well as to promote wine and food tourism, a growing business that is worth 5 billion euros in Italy," said De Pasquale.