The Italy vineyard is suffering but resists for now the attack by Covid-19 on the non-EU market front. “The April data speak of a made in Italy market which obviously falls but seems to respond to the crisis more effectively than own competitors. The failure to collapse in the US market, thanks to the additional duties on France, the greater presence of the tricolor product in overseas large-scale distribution, a better value for money, together with the excellent result in Canada, make the Italian glass less bitter in time of Covid-19 », explains the head of the Vinitaly-Nomisma Wine Monitor Observatory, Denis Pantini.
What happened? According to the research, the picture of the wine market in the first four months of 2020 in the top 10 importing countries (which are worth 50% of the country’s exports), Italy surprisingly marks + 5.1% on the same period of the previous year, thanks to the excellent performance in the United States (+ 10.8%, in the first 2 months the figure was + 40%) and in Canada (+ 7.1%). Deep red instead on French wine (-10.1%), in retreat in its key squares both in the East and in the West.
The ridge, already disconnected in March, however, becomes almost prohibitive in April, where heavy bottlenecks in Italian markets are recorded in all the markets considered except for Canada, Russia and South Korea. They range from -5.2% (in values) of Japan to -12.5% of the USA (+ 6.8% sparkling), from -26% of Switzerland to -48% of China, for an overall deficit of 7.2% on the previous year , however, against the French -22.2%. In the coming months, according to the Observatory, the crisis will still weigh on a voluptuous asset such as wine, struggling with a lower purchasing power of demand, in addition to disposing of unsold items in restaurants and importers’ warehouses. Without considering the trend of EU demand in April, which promises to be a more marked negative sign. For the general director of Veronafiere, Giovanni Mantovani: «It is a decisive moment for the future of Italian wine; the global crisis requires us to make important choices that will also affect the long run “.
According to the analysis, the potential rebound could come in the medium term from the United States – already in the recovery phase of employment – and perhaps also from China, which although exiting first from the pandemic in the last month has halved its imports probably to due to a sharp economic downturn accentuated by the trade conflict with the United States. Meanwhile, in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, Italy is gaining market share in almost all importing countries, with substantial increases in Switzerland (from 33.1% to 37.7%) and in the USA (from 31.4 % to 34.2%). Where from March to early May sales in the off trade have surged by 31%, particularly in the average price ranges (11-20 dollars), a segment in which Italy is very present and competitive.
These forecasts weigh the start of a new trade war between the US and the EU. The American government has in fact decided to launch an investigation into the so-called digital tax, i.e. the taxation of digital service activities and the governments that have resolved to apply it, including the European Commission and Italy. As happened in the past in the case of the Boeing / Airbus dispute, the United States could decide again to apply very heavy duties on European agri-food products. In the document declaring the start of the new investigation phase starting from June 2020, reference is still not made to which products could be subject to new duties, but the risk that Italian wine will be affected is very high and concrete. This is why the independent winemakers wrote to ministers Bellanova and Patuanelli to ask the government to “ensure that Italian wine is not included in the products taken into consideration for any new US duties”. Fivi, in particular, requests that the entry into force of the digital tax be postponed and that this decision be taken together with the other countries within the Organization for economic cooperation and development to prevent Italian products from being taxed in retaliation .