Positive Long-Term Growth for the UK Wine Industry

11th September 2020

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• The latest industry figures from Wines of Great Britain reveal a healthy rise in sales in UK and overseas

• Employment and tourism numbers show the growing importance of the UK wine industry to the UK economy

Wines of Great Britain have released the results from their latest industry survey, based on performance in 2019, which shows strong positive growth in sales and its contribution to the economy through employment and tourism.

The industry body reported 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 over 70%. Exports accounted for 10% of sales; in volume terms exports doubled in one year, showing an appetite for GB wines in overseas markets. Scandinavia and USA lead the way, but other key markets also saw healthy growth – exports to Japan, for example, doubled from 2018 to 2019.

Domestically English and Welsh wines saw distribution through the on and off 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.

2019 also saw an ongoing increase in hectarage, with some 3.2m 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.

Evident signs of industry growth are illustrated with a marked increase in employment. Growth in Full Time and Full Time Equivalent employment figures of nearly 40% in just a year 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.

Securing future jobs is reinforced by the range of training opportunities on offer in the UK, 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 the 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 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 comments: “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.”

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