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Wine Distributor and Importer Guide: Germany

Vinaty’s guide to the Germany market for wine distributors and importers

Wine Distributor and Importer Guide: Germany

More than any segment of the alcohol market including beer, it is wine where Germany punches above its weight. According to the Trade Data Monitor Database, Germany’s wine market ranks third in the world in value, trailing only Britain and the USA. It is the world’s biggest importer of wine by volume. Any winery, big or small, should consider how it might fit on this key European market.

These same distributors might be interested to know the key fact of Germany’s wine market: though this is a significant wine-producing country, they don’t make enough to satisfy their own demand. This, as well as Germany's internationalist outlook, makes foreign wine a far easier sell than south of the border in Italy. Italians, for that matter, are top of the market, with Spain and France not far behind, and major wine-producers such as South Africa, Austria, Portugal and New Zealand in the top ten. The overall volume of imported wine runs into the million hectoliters, with 5.5 million hectolitres from Italy alone. Germany imported 1.5 billion liters of wine in 2019, although this represents a drop of a little less than 1% on 2018 according to New York Wines.

Makers of organic wine might find their niche in Germany, with the lack of pesticides and herbicides constituting a major draw for affluent German consumers. Sustainability ranks highly on the list of German market considerations, with domestic produce bolstered as a result. According to the German Wine Institute, domestic wine made up 45 percent of household purchases by volume. The tendency to purchase red over white wine, common across Europe, is somewhat less pronounced in Germany: 46% of retail was red, 44% white, 10% rosé. A New Zealand government survey revealed where Germans buy their wine: more than two thirds at the supermarket, a fifth online, and, perhaps surprisingly, almost a third at the winery itself. A little less than half of wine was bought in the lowest price bracket of between €3 and €6, with only 10% of the market willing to stretch beyond €15 per bottle. Cheaper wines, therefore, might find favour on a crowded market.

Providing an accurate forecast for the German market is a difficult business. Conflicting figures abound, with many replicating a worldwide tendency of less drinking among young people, and an overall decrease in the value of wine imports. The German Wine Institute (DWI), however, reports that the 2021 sales in retailers grew by 6%, while revenue grew revenue by 8%. Despite discrepancies between figures, it is unlikely that these fluctuations will change the fundamental truth of the German wine market: it is big, it is relatively steady, and it is ready for foreign wineries.