2023: Turbulent times – tackled well together
Austrian Wine’s Annual Report 2023 (available only in German) provides a detailed insight into the strategic considerations and initiatives that shaped the past year.
It became obvious in 2022 that the end of the coronavirus pandemic would not automatically bring about a rapid market recovery. The war in Ukraine, together with rising inflation and high interest rates, is causing severe economic upheaval – particularly in terms of a steep increase in costs. Austrian Wine responded to this with well-targeted initiatives in both the domestic and international markets. Over the past year, Austrian Wine has organised 160 events at which they presented 9,613 Austrian wines from 921 different wineries (a selection of which can be found here).
Wine sales struggled in 2023, in both the Austrian on-trade and off-trade. There was only slight growth in wine revenue (on-trade: +2.7%, off-trade: +2.0%, Q1–Q3 2023), while sales dropped slightly (on-trade: -1.8% off-trade: -2.5%). Austrian winegrowers are feeling the effects of this sluggish market situation. Responding to this, Austrian Wine increased its activity in the domestic market in autumn and winter 2023, running promotional initiatives in the on-trade, off-trade and wine tourism industries, while also focusing advertising in western Austria, where a lot of domestic wine is sold during the winter season. They also ran a country-wide social media campaign, which drove demand for Austrian wine.
In a bid to stabilise the domestic market, Austrian Wine also focused their efforts on the international markets in 2023. Every bottle of wine exported takes a little bit of pressure off winemakers who sell their wines in Austria. This is particularly important, given that the market share of Austrian wine on the domestic market is traditionally very high (market share in value, 2022 (full year): 84% in the on-trade, 76.6% in the off-trade).
As a result, Austrian Wine was particularly active in their export markets in 2023. One of the key focuses was wine trips to Austria, which took off again considerably following the coronavirus pandemic. Austrian Wine supported a total of 66 wine trips, which involved 406 international industry experts and 569 visits to wineries. These trips enabled visitors to experience the quality of Austrian wines first-hand and expand their professional network by connecting with local winegrowers.
Meanwhile, Austrian Wine also organised tastings, stands at trade fairs and promotional activities around the globe, including major initiatives targeted at the German and American off-trade, presence at ProWein Düsseldorf and ProWine China with representatives from hundreds of Austrian wineries, and Austrian Wine’s signature series of Austrian Tastings in London and Stockholm. All in all, Austrian Wine organized 142 export activities in the international markets where they presented 8,414 Austrian wines.
Despite all this, exports still felt the impact of the tense global economic situation. After a 26.8% increase in value between 2019 and 2022 – despite the coronavirus – growth in 2023 is expected to be small. This is indicated by the figures for the first nine months, during which the individual export markets behaved very differently. Some markets, such as Germany, Canada or Asia, experienced growth, while others shrank. Despite sluggish markets, the conversations with international industry specialists all confirm that Austrian wines are very much in tune with the times. High-quality, fresh wines that are produced with an environmentally conscious approach are just what many consumers around the world are looking for. In other words, conditions look good for Austrian wine exports to pick up quickly once the economy recovers.
Again this year, Austrian Wine has defined an extensive range of initiatives for 2024. Driving sales in the domestic market will be a key focus, as will using VieVinum to boost exports. As Austrian Wine CEO Chris Yorke explains, “All of our activities are aimed at providing the best possible support for our winegrowers, in both the domestic and international markets. It is key that we consolidate all our energy and tackle these turbulent times together. After all, I’ve always believed that one of the greatest strengths of the Austrian wine industry is the way we pull together.”
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