In a very difficult year for the Brazilian economy, the wine market went in the opposite direction and took a historic leap in 2020. Per capita consumption rose 30% in the country, amid social isolation, reaching a maximum of 2.78 liters for each inhabitant over 18 years old. However, the year was especially positive for the historically less prestigious niche of national wineries: that of fine wines. According to Ideal Consulting, which follows the evolution of the sector, sales of these products have doubled.
Excluding sparkling wines from the account, the Brazilian market is still very concentrated in table wines, explains Felipe Gualtaroça, president of Ideal Consulting. This product – mainly associated with 5-liter bottles, but no longer restricted to them – represents 63% of the national production, while the imported product takes up another 31%. Result: the local wine produced from wine grapes represents only 6% of the total consumption.
A confluence of factors contributed to the market as a whole, but mainly the higher priced Brazilian wines, had a consumption expansion outside the curve in 2020. The main one was the rise in the dollar, which remained well above R $ 5 for much of the year. However, national wineries have also benefited from better distribution – both in traditional retail and in e-commerce – and the quality of the 2019/2020 harvest, which guaranteed the offer of a better quality product at this time of experimentation.
“It was a chance for the consumer to get rid of the prejudice he had in relation to Brazilian fine wine,” says Gualtaroça. The expert recalls that the crop that is being harvested at this time is also considered to be of superior quality to the Brazilian average thanks to the favorable climatic condition.
While the local fine wine still has an uphill path, the sparkling wine producers had already managed to fall in the Brazilian consumer’s taste. Today, local wineries dominate the national sparkling wine market. During the pandemic, this weight of the local product increased even more: it went from 81%, in 2019, to 84%, last year.
Member of the board of the Valduga family – which brings together six of the main brands of wine and sparkling wines in the country, such as Casa Valduga, Casa Madeira and Ponto Nero -, Jones Valduga says that the year 2020 “certainly was atypical”. The businessman projects that it will be possible to maintain the aggregate expansion rate of 25% last year in 2021. “Ponto Nero, which works exclusively with sparkling wines, grew 30% in 2020. And we are also seeing an increase in interest in our white and rosé wines.”
Partner-owner of Luiz Argenta winery, in the city of Flores da Cunha, Rio de Janeiro, businessman Deunir Argenta, who is also president of the Brazilian Union of Vitiviniculture (Uvibra), says that the perceived “breath” of 2020 came at a good time: “We were coming almost without growth – in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the market practically stagnated ”, he points out.