Trends in the U.S. Wine Import Sector

Wine Imports Take a Dip


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In 2023, the landscape of wine imports into the United States saw a significant shift, with the country reducing its wine imports more by volume (-14.6%) than by value (-8.6%), resulting in a 7% increase in the average price per liter. This year marked the lowest volume of wine imports over the last five years, with the United States importing 1,226.5 million liters and spending just under $6.690 billion—after two years of comfortably exceeding the $7 billion mark. The average price hit a 15-year high at $5.45 per liter, signaling the first drop in U.S. wine purchases by volume since 2018. Though the value had dipped in 2020 due to the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic and the imposition of "Trump Tariffs" on bottled wine imports from certain European countries (a measure later revoked by the Biden-Harris Administration), this downturn is noteworthy. The volume of imports closely mirrors the figures recorded in 2019 and 2020.

Despite this decrease, the U.S. remains the world's premier wine market in terms of value, although it was surpassed by the United Kingdom in 2023 as the second-largest importer by volume, with Germany leading the ranking. Following the pandemic, the U.S. had been a driving force in the recovery of international wine trade, which reached record levels in 2022. However, 2023 ended with significant losses, a trend also observed in Canada and Mexico—markets that, like the U.S., had been experiencing robust growth.

A closer examination reveals that the downturn in U.S. imports during 2023 was particularly stark in the second half of the year. Despite the overall decline, wine imports in the U.S. have grown at an average annual rate (CAGR) of 4.5% in volume and 4.9% in value since the turn of the century, expanding from 448 million liters and $2.227 billion to 1,227 million liters and $6.690 billion over 23 years.

The reduction in imported volume was across all wine categories in 2023, with a notable increase in spending on bag-in-box wines. Bulk wine was the only category to see a price drop. Bottled wines continued to dominate the import market, with just under 650 million liters (-11.4%) and about $4.670 billion (-5%) in purchases. Despite falling less than the average compared to 2022, bottled wines have shown the least growth since 2000. Their average price rose by 7.2% in 2023, reaching $7.19 per liter, the first time it has exceeded $7.

Bulk and sparkling wines lost market share, dropping 18% in volume to 400 million liters for bulk and 169 million liters for sparkling. Although far from the top in volume, sparkling wine holds the second spot in value with just under $1.690 billion (-13.5%), significantly above the $304 million for bulk wine (-27.6%). The average price for sparkling wine increased by 5.3% to $9.99 per liter, the highest since 2015, compared to 76 cents per liter for bulk wine (-11.8%). Bag-in-box wines, although dropping 13.5% in volume to 7.9 million liters, saw a 5.7% increase in value to $26.7 million, with the average price jumping 22.3% to $3.40 per liter. Purchases remain far below those seen in the early years of available data for this category (2017 and 2018), when the average price was significantly lower.

Despite losing market share in 2023, bulk wine (including bag-in-box for historical comparison) has experienced the most substantial growth in the U.S. since the start of the century, with an annual average growth rate of 14.8% in volume and 12% in value, far outpacing packaged (+2.2% and +4.4%) and sparkling wines (+6.5% and +5.6%).

Diving deeper into the intricacies of the U.S. wine import scene in 2023, the country sourced its wines from 71 global suppliers. Among the top 10, only Canada and New Zealand saw growth in their exports to the U.S., while Australia and, to a lesser extent, Portugal experienced price reductions. Italy remained the top supplier in volume despite a 13% decrease to 333.8 million liters, marking its lowest figure since 2016. Following Italy, Canada increased its exports by 6.5% to 225 million liters, reinforcing its role as a provider of very cheap bulk wine. However, Canada ranked tenth in terms of value, accounting for just 1.1% of the total expenditure despite representing over 18% of the volume acquired by the U.S., given its negligible average price of 31 cents per liter.

France, as the third-largest supplier, saw a 16% decline to 166.4 million liters. Australia and New Zealand remained relatively stable, with 141 and 102 million liters respectively, with both countries outpacing Chile, which dropped to the sixth supplier position following a 45% decrease to 77.4 million liters—its lowest since 2008. Spain maintained its position as the seventh-largest supplier with a 15.3% drop to 62.9 million liters, the lowest since 2010. Argentina (-43%), Portugal (-8.9%), and Germany (-7.3%) rounded out the top 10, with Argentina's significant drop confirming a challenging 2023 for American wine purchases in the U.S.

Interestingly, the ranking changes when considering the value of imports. France led in value despite a 6.5% decrease to $2.5 billion, the lowest since the critical year of 2020 impacted by the pandemic and "Trump Tariffs." Italy followed, with a clear second-place finish at $2.117 billion, also its lowest since 2020. Together, France and Italy accounted for 69% of the total U.S. wine expenditure in 2023. New Zealand, far behind the leaders, grew by 2.2% to nearly $600 million, marking its best year to date in both value and volume. Spain solidified its fourth position with $364.4 million, nearly $100 million ahead of Australia, which ranked fifth with $269 million—a 12.5% decline. Argentina and Chile experienced the most significant drops in value among the top 10, nearly 30%, even as their prices increased the most.

As for average prices, France, with a focus on high-value-added wines, had the highest average price without question at $15.03 per liter, an 11.5% increase and the highest in the historical series. The recovery in the price of French wine has been remarkable, especially considering the drop to $10.77 per liter in 2020. Italy's average price was the second highest at $6.34 per liter, followed by New Zealand ($5.86) and Spain ($5.79), with Spanish wine prices rising above the average by 9.1%. At the other end of the spectrum, Canada ($0.31), Australia ($1.91), and Chile ($2.15) offered the lowest average prices, with Argentina, Portugal, and Germany prices hovering around $5 per liter.

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