Beer and vodka might be the traditional tipples of Poland, but they are losing ground to certain product groups. Gaining the most traction is wine. Since Poland’s 2004 ascension to the EU, the wine market has been uncorked and might just be the nation’s most exciting alcoholic drinks segment.
Wine in Poland: from humble beginnings to exciting growth
Negligible domestic production means Poland doesn’t have much viniculture to speak of. There are of course small-scale producers, around 100, but they do not enough to make a dent in the overall market composition.
Then 2004 rolled around, Poland became a fully-fledged EU Member, and the effects of free trade kicked in.
Sales of wine in Poland have grown nearly 60% since then.
Thanks to the ready availability of imported vintages, Poland’s wine market is growing 5-6% annually. It has done so since the turn of the decade, and this is one of the highest growth rates seen anywhere in Europe.
In 2016, Poles drank 107 million litres of wine – way in excess of the 97 million litres quaffed in 2010. Per capita consumption has since risen to 5.5 litres. In 2014, consumption stood at less than three litres per person.
It’s true that countries like Germany, France, and Italy all consume much larger volumes of vino each year. France alone consumes almost ten times as much wine as Poland does. Still, Poles have doubled their intake – and it their thirst is only getting bigger.
Poland is Central Europe’s biggest wine importer
Since there is no significant wine production in Poland, according to CBI, practically all quality wines are imported. Luckily for the Poland, being an EU member, it has tariff-free access to labels from famed wine producing countries.
Polish wine imports amounted to $237 million in 2015, showing an average annual rise of 1.7% from 2011 onward. There’s a lot happening demographically in Poland which suggests imports will rise in the coming years.
In the meantime, let’s focus on where Poles import their wine from.
Western European countries are Poland’s biggest suppliers – although not the ones you might be thinking of. Germany actually leads the charge. Polish buyers bought German varieties worth $59.71 million in 2015, against $39.1 million of Italian labels and $29 million of wine imported from France. 62.9% of total Polish wine imports is controlled by producers from Western Europe.
Outside of the EU, New World wines and those from developing states enjoy 13.3% of the import market. Chile holds the single largest share, exporting wine products worth $14.5 million in 2015. The remaining market gaps are plugged by imports from neighbouring Central and Eastern European countries, including Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Young Polish professionals driving wine consumption
The growing accessibility of premium bottles has emerged alongside a key trend in Poland’s alcoholic drinks sector: the rise of young professionals. Poles’ are enjoying bigger wages, amongst the younger demographics, and this is encouraging more spending on wine and “luxury” goods.
For example, time was Poles preferred sweet and semi-dry wines as the primary drinkers were elderly women. However, young urban professionals prefer semi-dry and dry wines, in particular red over white or rosé. This has naturally has an effect what varieties are bought in Poland.
Increased cash flows also means more Poles are heading overseas than ever before. Here they get involved with foreign wine-drinking cultures, which influences their purchases at home.
That said, wine is still seen as a premium product. That’s partly why vodka is losing market share on what should be home turf. Vodka is regarded as a cheap, common drink, whereas wine is something a little more exclusive – an attribute attracting it to young urbanites.
This even feeds into the type of packaging that attracts Polish wine drinkers. Screw tops are not popular because they are traditionally found on vodka bottles – highlighting the premium/general consumer split. Bag-in-a-box wine, for example, has limited market penetration – so the lesson is go corked or go home on Poland’s wine market.
Likewise, due to the fact the market is small and developing, fashionable wine-mixes and blends are not expected to take off any time soon. Time lag after such innovations, and that limited market size, means products like aromatic wines or wine cocktails, enjoy limited appeal. It’s best to keep it safe and simple if you are planning on exporting wine to Poland.
Meet Poland’s wine buyers at WorldFood Warsaw
Poland’s leading alcohol buyers, including retail chains, importers, and distributors, will be at WorldFood Warsaw this year. If you want to find import partners, and grow your business leads in Europe’s fastest growing wine sector, you need to be exhibiting at this event.
2017’s event attracted over 4,000 dedicated food and drink professionals looking to source new products and meet new suppliers – and WorldFood Warsaw 2018 promises more of the same back to Poland’s capital.
The event also features a unique business matchmaking service between exhibitors and potential buyers, distributors, and retail representatives – making it the ideal platform to meet and network with key decision makers of one of EU’s leading alcohol markets.