Much has been written about the booming growth of the English wine market, but it’s only now that exports in the industry are starting to sparkle.
With the number of markets being shipped to up to 27 from 19 in 2015, and targets for 2.5 million bottles to be exported by 2020, English wine could become a real boon for the food and drink industry as a whole. The industry in general continues to grow with Scotch whiskey its perennial flag bearer.
The wine industry is now hitting sales of 130 million, but in 2015 only 250,000 of the four to five million bottles produced a year could be counted as exports.
Demand beyond the EU
The BBC website has gone into great depth here about why the industry might be about to take off internationally and covers some of the various challenges that have made this slow in coming. In the feature, English sparkling producer Chapel Down’s chief executive Frazer Thompson noted how consistent growth is being fuelled by demand from the North America and South East Asia markets in particular.
Indeed, selling to France, Spain and Italy – where there are obviously massive domestic markets of cheaper, high quality produce – is in many ways much harder to crack. Bob Lindo from Cornish winery Camel Valley says that Japan, China and the USA buy much more of his produce than the nearer-by European markets.
Warmer climate could boost exports
The barrier to trade for English wineries has always been the shortage of the suitable land and hot weather needed to grow wine grapes, but global warming is starting to sip away at this obvious obstacle. As perverse as the cause may be, the UK’s productivity in the industry is only going to increase as the country becomes hotter.
The challenge going forwards is more likely to be one of improving reputation - one which lags way behind that of the Spanish, Italian and French winemakers.
But given that demand for English wine is largely beyond the EU, it’s possible that the industry could become a flag bearer for a post-Brexit Britain.