Californian wine exports show significant year-on-year growth in 2021 across multiple markets, bolstered by strong demand from Asia.

Wine Institute earlier this week released data that showed encouraging growth for worldwide Californian wine exports in 2021 despite recent global challenges. According to its report – compiled with information from Trade Data Monitor and the U.S. Department of Commerce – global imports grew 10.6% year-on-year in 2021, leaping to US$1.33b from US$1.3b in 2020. This represents its largest gain since 2013, when the US wine export market grew by 16.2%.

With Californian wine representing 95% of all exported US wine, this growth is indicative of the overall positive performance of US wine exports for 2021.

Canada remains the largest market for Californian wines, with America’s northern neighbour soaking up 35.6% of total Californian wine exports in 2021 to the value of  US$513m. The United Arab Emirates recorded the largest YoY percentage growth at 167%, the Middle East federation importing US$6.8m of Californian wine in total last year.

However United Kingdom, California wine’s second-largest market, marked a stunning 20% drop; exports to Britain were hit largely by trade uncertainties due to Brexit, falling from US$244m in 2020 to US$195m. Overall the European Union saw a very slight dip; the 27 EU countries recorded in the data imported US$190m in 2021, down from US$191m in 2020.

But it is Asia that represents opportunities for California wine. Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea, California wine’s biggest Asian markets, all grew YoY at 7.3%, 23.6%, and 51.55% respectively. China too is on the rise. China imported US$38.8m worth of California wine in 2021, up 83.3% over 2020. The Philippines also saw huge growth, jumping 143% to hit US$20.7m in imports last year, while Taiwan grew almost 48% to US$18m.

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Singapore saw modest growth; the Republic imported at total of US$13.8m worth of California wine, a YoY growth at 7%.

Anecdotal evidence attribute the Republic’s slower growth to logistics challenges brought on by the global pandemic. “Singapore’s numbers could have been better if not for shipping issues that have impeded growth,” shared Ritchie Loh, Sales Director of Asia Pacific for Trinchero Family Wines. “Our customers have highlighted numerous difficulties securing vessels for their orders especially during the height of the pandemic last year.”

Overall, export growth of Californian wine to Asia mitigated the large decline recorded by the United Kingdom.

“While we continue to see some challenges in the international marketplace for US wine exports, we’re encouraged that export data shows a trend toward countering the impact of the global pandemic, retaliatory tariffs, unfavourable exchange rates and other external circumstances,” said Honore Comfort, vice president of international marketing at Wine Institute. “We’re moving the needle for larger gains in the future with a goal to boost the Golden State’s wine exports by $2.5 billion over the next decade.”

“We are very pleased to see our exports return to growth after several challenging years and we are grateful for the Biden administration’s diligent work to address a number of trade irritants,” said Bobby Koch, Wine Institute President and CEO. “We urge the administration to continue working to expand market access for our wines through free trade agreements in key markets such as the United Kingdom.”

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