Excerpt from EUROPE - WINE MARKETS REPORT
Poland's wine market, despite current market constraints resulting from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to continue growing over the next five years. According to Polish Customs data, 2019 U.S. wine imports exceeded $34 million, accounting for over 10 percent of Poland’s total wine market.
Polish wine consumption has steadily increased in recent years due to higher disposable incomes, easier access to higher quality products, and evolving consumer trends. Because Poland is a European Union (EU) Member State, Polish wine importers and distributors enjoy relatively easy access to wines available within the common market.
Poles generally prefer red wines followed by sweeter whites, although consumer preferences are slowly trending away from sweet wines toward drier white varietals. Sparkling wines like prosecco and cava are growing in popularity, followed by still rosés, and champagne. The Polish wine market is dominated by low-cost table wines, but higher quality wines have made inroads among many consumers. Increasingly serious marketing efforts, on-line wine sellers, and a proliferation of wine shops, particularly in leading shopping centers, have all contributed toward popularizing higher-end wines.
Although wine consumption is less seasonal than it was in the past, some seasonal trends persist. For example, sparkling wines, including champagne, are particularly popular during Christmas, New Years, Carnival in February, and during first communion season in May.
In 2019, total Polish wine imports were valued at $360 million. 2019 U.S. wine imports were valued at $34 million, a $10 million decrease from $44 million in 2018. Non-European wines are generally not shipped directly to Poland, but arrive through western EU intermediaries like Germany, where they arrive bottled or in barrels to be bottled. According to Polish Customs data, top 2019 wine imports, based on country of origin import data, came from Italy, Germany, France and the United States.
Most large importers distribute products through their own wholesale operations located throughout Poland. Besides utilizing their own distribution channels, importers also sell their products to independent wholesale firms, which in turn distribute wine to hypermarkets, specialty shops, and small retail stores located in larger cities. Largest retail store chains import wines for their own distribution or obtain it from a local importer or wholesaler. By some estimates, there are as many as 700 Polish wine importers. Beyond the leading top 50 companies, these importers tend to be small and informal operations and there is little reliable data exists for this market segment.
While direct alcoholic beverage promotions in hypermarkets and specialty shops are prohibited, importers and wholesalers can actively promote their products in restaurants and hotels, at wine tastings, and through professional periodicals available through subscriptions.
The wine choices of Polish drinkers are strongly influenced by promotional activities such as sales promotions within popular wine buying channels or informative events. Wine in Poland is commonly marketed through targeted trade events, where organizers work with sommeliers and selected audience.
While most wine consumed in Poland are lower-cost, market share for higher end wines is growing. However, most households remain unwilling to spend more than $15 on a bottle of wine purchased from a hyper/supermarket for home consumption, and are more likely to spend in the $5 to $10 range.
Retail prices for wine vary by varietal, region, country of origin, and perceived quality, which is correlated with the other price determining factors. Store formatting can also determine the retail price for a bottle of wine. Specialty wine stores offer customers more information about wines and often charge a premium over hyper/supermarkets. EU accession fomented substantially more interest among Polish consumers for wine, as easy travel to other Member States exposure more people to more wine, further spread through word of mouth, and increased consumer interest in nontraditional Polish foods. Wine has also gained popularity through international television and the popularity of cooking shows.
As previously stated, total off-trade consumption increased by 13 per cent in value during 2020, however, imported wines grew at a faster rate than domestic wines, 16 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. The source countries driving the growth in import off-trade sales are Italy, France, and New Zealand.
By David BECK
Director WINE ANALYTICS