WineGB survey indicates "positive growth" ahead for English and Welsh wines
Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) predicts “strong positive growth in sales” for English and Welsh wines, and its contribution to the economy through employment and tourism, according to its latest industry survey.
The survey, which is based on performance in 2019, shows that an estimated 5.5 million bottles of English and Welsh wines were sold in 2019, growing from some 3.2 million bottles in 2018 – an increase of more than 70%.
Domestically English and Welsh wines saw distribution through the off and on trade representing just over 50% of total sales; direct to customer sales also retained a solid foothold, with just over a third of all sales being sold online and from the cellar door.
Exports accounted for 10% of sales; in volume terms exports doubled in one year, showing an appetite for GB wines in overseas markets.
2019 also saw an ongoing increase in hectarage, with some 3.2million vines planted, cementing the wine industry as one of the UK’s fastest-growing agricultural sectors; the trend is set to continue with just over a quarter of growers surveyed outlining plans to plant more vines in the next three years. Hectarage under vine has quadrupled since 2000.
There was also a marked increase in employment last year, with growth in full time employment figures of nearly 40% over the period of one year, which Wine GB said “gives a clear indication that the contribution from vineyard, winery and wine tourism businesses in the industry to the rural economy is significant, and also illustrates the ever-growing range of job prospects that this industry now offers”.
There is now a range of training opportunities to help drive jobs in the future in this sector with training covering viticulture and winemaking to sales and marketing. WineGB works closely with Plumpton College, the premier training provider of skills in this sector, to ensure delivery of more upskilling opportunities across the country.
Last year saw the inception of the drive to bring sustainability to very heart of the industry. Sustainable Wines of Great Britain (SWGB) is now a very clear and focussed programme with many producers already committed.
WineGB’s political agenda was also consolidated last year with the formation of an All Party Parliamentary Group for the industry, reinforcing the need to recognise and support the fast growing contribution that this industry is making to the UK.
WineGB said it is now recognised as the authoritative voice of the industry and is ensuring that the needs of the industry are represented in all relevant Government departments. One notable area of activity is work with the Department of International Trade (DIT) whose support has helped secure additional export sales.
Simon Robinson, Chairman of WineGB said: “This report shows 2019 as another positive year for this industry which reinforces our confidence in the future; the UK is now well established as a producer of wines of the highest quality and our continuing commitment to improving our wines has lead us to establish a sustainable wine programme which is entirely in line with what our consumers tell us they want.
“We obviously cannot overlook the seismic changes everyone has experienced this year due to Covid-19, which will no doubt be reflected in our next industry report. This year has inevitably brought serious setbacks, but the industry has reacted nimbly to address the issues and as a result we have also seen significant developments in direct to consumer sales and increased growth through the UK retail sector; we therefore remain broadly positive for the future.”