Home Wine Business Editorial French Wine Capitalizing on U.S. Drinking Trends

French Wine Capitalizing on U.S. Drinking Trends


Major trends in the U.S. wine market including premiumization, sparkling wine, and rosé play to the strengths of French wine leading to a 14.2% value growth, surpassing runner-up New Zealand at 13.7%, to claim the highest import growth by nation over the past 52 weeks according to Nielsen data*.

Bubbles to the Top

While the Prosecco trend is roaring ahead, grabbing the attention, and pushing the bulk of the growth in the sparkling category with a 23.1% value growth, French Champagne is holding its own at 8.4% growth – slightly below the 8.8% of the overall category, but well ahead of U.S. domestic sparkling, which only managed to grow at 5.3%.

Prosecco captured a 2.2% sparkling category share increase by value over the past 52 weeks, but only 0.1% came out of Champagne’s share, which is still larger than Prosecco’s at 20.1% compared to 18.5%.

So does Champagne need to fear Prosecco? Probably not. While they are the two major players in the sparkling category, Champagne’s average 750ml bottle price sits at $52.35, more than four times the $12.27 average of a bottle of Prosecco, making Prosecco a potential growth funnel for consumers to mature to Champagne’s higher price point as premiumization continues.

The Rosé Revolution

The premium rosé revolution reflected in the 56.6% value growth of the >$7.99 rosé segment over the past year, on the heels of the previous year’s 55.7% growth, is largely a French import phenomenon.

Though the growing premium rosé segment is still only 1.1% of the table wine category (up from 0.7% just one year ago), France is the origin of 78.3% of all U.S. rosé imports, and rosé alone represents 16.8% of the total value of French wine imports with the average price of a French rosé sold in the U.S. coming in at $13.90.

The total annual U.S. premium rosé segment retail sales* amounted to $146,747,201, and when it’s held up against the $110,810,876 worth of French rosé imports, it leaves very little room for anyone else, and with French rosé imports outpacing overall premium rosé growth with an impressive 63.4% increase, that doesn’t appear to be changing.

French Wines in the Growth Zone

Over the past 52 weeks wines priced above $9 captured 2% market share from the lower priced segments bringing it up to 52.9% of the total annual value of the retail table wine market. That’s less than the 2.6% it gained the year before, but still represents a strong premiumization trend and clearly shows where the growth in the wine market is happening.

French Champagne and rosé live in this premium segment, but so does the average bottle of French wine sold in the U.S., which is priced at $12.71 (up $0.33 from a year ago), the highest average bottle price of all imports by nation.

French varietals that are trending down in the U.S. market, Malbec, Merlot, and Syrah are also impacting those wines imported from France, but they represent a very small percentage of French wine imports leaving little trace in the overall strong performance of French wines in the U.S. market, and their continued rosy outlook.

* Nielsen retail outlets data, period ending 2/25/2017

By Kim Badenfort

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