Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is ever more popular worldwide and is investing in sustainability.
It is estimated that by the end of 2017 sales will be of around 93 million bottles (+ 3%) and over 500 million Euros (+6%). Within this context, organic wines are now showing interesting numbers (sales up by 20% in 2016) and the producers are demonstrating ever greater commitment to wide-ranging sustainability projects.
This morning, the Producers’ Consortium for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. presented the contents of its Annual Financial Report, prepared by the Conegliano Valdobbiadene District’s Research Centre, with scientific coordination provided by the Interdepartmental Centre for Research in Viticulture and Oenology of the University of Padua (Cirve). For the Denomination, this is an opportunity to cast its gaze towards the immediate future, make an initial assessment of what has taken place in 2017 and look back at the year’s challenges and the results obtained.
As regards the analysis of the figures for 2016, on which the Annual Financial Report is focused, one can see results that show a Denomination that is wholeheartedly following the path of sustainability. In particular, what emerges in a very clear way is the contribution of the producers of Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. in implementing policies that seek to maintain a balance between economic, social and environmental sustainability.
“Conegliano Valdobbiadene is an area rich in values and beauty, which has to be preserved and managed with care and attention,” says Innocente Nardi, President of the Producers’ Consortium for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G.. “The Annual Report, drawn up as usual by the District’s Research Centre and Cirve, demonstrates that the growers and producers of our region are working with great determination towards this goal. Together with the more than satisfactory figures for organic production in 2016 and the massive adoption by the producers of the environmental protection measures promoted by the Consortium, we can take great pleasure from the economic data for 2017, which reveal sales of around 93 million bottles by the end of the year. Lastly,” continues Mr. Nardi, “our hard work has been rewarded by the growth expressed in value terms, which in 2017 is reflected in sales of 521 million Euros, up 6% compared to 2015”.
These very positive results have been spearheaded by the activities of the Consortium which, in the last few years, has developed and promulgated various sustainability projects, and in particular the Viticultural Protocol, a document that proposes and promotes a virtuous system of integrated vine pest control. “If one considers the total production of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G., 84% is produced following the indications of the Viticultural Protocol” declares Vasco Boatto, Professor at the University of Padua and in charge of the District’s Research Centre. “Apart from the Viticultural Protocol, other projects that have yielded encouraging results have been promoted and financed. Besides the wine produced in accordance with the Protocol, 13% is made in line with the precepts of integrated pest control and 3% according to the paradigms of organic and biodynamic production and other sustainable protocols”.
In 2016 the number of companies bottling organic D.O.C.G. sparkling wine increased by 20% compared to 2015. Organic Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. showed notable growth in value (+37%) and volume terms (+32%). The organic segment increased especially on the Italian market, with growth of more than 50% in volume terms.
Equally interesting performances can be seen on foreign markets. In particular, Germany confirms its place as the leading importing nation with a 34% share in terms of value, showing a rise of 6% in absolute terms over 2015. Among the principal importers, it is followed in relevance by the U.K. (19% of volumes); Switzerland, with a 15% share in value; and the U.S.A., with a 12% share in value and growth of 74%.
Carrying on in the analysis of the “sustainable” approaches adopted by the producers in the Denomination, an increase can be seen in the involvement of companies making D.O.C.G. wine in operations having to do with water- and agriculture-related improvement of the land, aimed at preserving elements of value in the viti-vinicultural landscape, reaching 69 cases in 2016 (equal to an increase of 9% compared to 2011). In 2016 this change was accompanied by an increased number of operations involving the restoration and maintenance of the local architectural heritage (up 31% compared to 2011), with the participation of 48 companies within the D.O.C.G. area.
Of particular interest is the figure regarding plantings in the proximity of vineyards of new clumps of trees and shrub species, aimed at enriching the biodiversity of the countryside and of the viticultural ecosystem (roughly 27%). These new investments have also led to the planting of hedges, which create, apart from the role of reducing the drift of pesticides, a greater level of protection of the countryside and of the reserves of useful insect life. These activities have witnessed the participation of 22% of the D.O.C.G.’s producers.
As regards investments in renewable energy resources, on the other hand, these were carried out in 2016 by 84 sparkling wine-producing companies, yielding an increase of 30% in the period under analysis (2011-2016).
Investments in other renewable energy sources (which include, for example, those in hydroelectric power plants, solar panels, etc.) have reduced the emission into the surrounding countryside of several thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide as well as saving around a quarter of the electrical energy necessary for the production process.
A growing number of D.O.C.G. sparkling wine producers (we are talking about 108 companies, around 81% of the total) are now adopting methods for recycling waste materials deriving from production in the vineyards. Thanks to this increase, the participation of companies in these actions, compared to 2011, has been marked by a further rise (up 16%).
In 2016, almost 90% of the companies in the D.O.C.G. reused the by-products of the processed grapes (stalks, pomace, lees, etc.) in the vineyards for improving the fertilisation of the soil, thus providing a contribution to maintaining its particular nature.
The dead vine shoots were used for energy purposes by 20% of the D.O.C.G.’s companies, while in 15% they were used for obtaining compost in combination with the grape pomace.
As regards sustainability in the winery, an increasing number of the D.O.C.G.’s sparkling wine producers have declared their commitment on this front, reaching, in 2016, 130 cases (equal to 72% of the total). Compared to 2015, with regard to practices in the winery, there has been an increase in the involvement of the D.O.C.G. sparkling wine producers in reusing water from the winery for the purposes of irrigation and fertilisation of the vineyards (+26%) and other eco-sustainable practices. Lastly, with regard to the final phase of production, one notes efforts to improve packaging by making it increasingly eco-sustainable (+14%), for a total, in 2016, of 44 D.O.C.G. sparkling wine producers out of 181 (approximately 24% of the total). In particular, from a considered examination of the results obtained by the production of D.O.C.G. wines in bottle, one can see that: 73% was bottled in light glass and/or in bottles made from recycled glass; 36% called for closures with capsules using water-based paints, with corks and other materials being recycled; around 22% used extra-thin labels, produced from FSC-certified paper; around 48% consisted of biodegradable and or lighter and/or less bulky cartons/packaging.
The efforts of the producers, considering the geographical proximity between them, will allow the Conegliano Valdobbiadene D.O.C.G. value chain to give an important contribution towards attaining the objectives of intelligent, inclusive and sustainable growth set under the Europa 2020 strategy.
The round table
It is indeed on this delicate equilibrium of which Conegliano Valdobbiadene area is a positive example that this evening’s round table discussion will focus. It will be introduced by Ermete Realacci, President of the 8th Commission (Environment, Territory and Public Works) of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament and President of Symbola, and coordinated by Gianluca Semprini, journalist for the RAI. This meeting has the goal of highlighting the economic, social and environmental aspects that are distinctive of this region, which has succeeded in transforming the culture of vine-growing into an enormously successful economic resource. Innovation, sustainability, territorial identity, quality, value, pride and passion are the key words about which the speakers will exchange opinions. Taking part will be Vasco Boatto, Professor at the University of Padua and in charge of the District’s Research Centre; Mara Manente, Director of the International Centre for Studies in the Economic of Tourism at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice; Severino Salvemini, Cultural Economist and Professor at the Bocconi University, and Riccardo Velasco, Director of CREA – the Centre for Research in Viticulture and Oenology. The meeting will be concluded by Gabriele Troilo, Associate Professor at the Bocconi University, who will take a look into the near future by introducing the study on the impact on the economy of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene area of the activities connected with Prosecco Superiore.
Export: the traditional and strategic markets, and the new importers
In 2016 growth on export markets reached 180.9 million Euros, thus registering an increase of 14% in value terms. On the other hand, as regards the volume of bottles sold, the figure obtained was 35.8 million, corresponding to an increase of 12%. In 2016 no less than 151 companies exported Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. around the world (i.e. 80% of the total number of producers).
The traditional markets are those in which Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. has been well-established for a long time. Here imports continue to grow, but more slowly, seeing that these are mature markets.
Germany confirmed itself in first place among the export markets for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G., with growth of 15% in value terms, corresponding to 40 million Euros and 7. 4 million bottles sold by 120 exporting wineries. In Switzerland the increase even reached a figure of 16% in value terms, represented by 33 million Euros and 7.1 million bottles sold by 108 exporting companies. Lastly, Austria witnessed growth of 14%, with 8.8 million Euros and 1.8 million bottles sold by 100 exporting producers.
The strategic markets, on the other hand, are those – sometimes very large in size – in which growth has shown a strong upsurge in recent years. Amongst others, they include: the United Kingdom, the United States, Benelux and Canada.
In the U.K. there has actually been a drop of 9% in value terms, corresponding to sales of 27.5 million Euros and 5.5 million bottles. 93 companies export their wines across the Channel. In Benelux there was a really massive increase of 74%, i.e. sales of 14.8 million Euros and 2.9 million bottles, supplied by over 100 exporting companies.
On the other side of the Atlantic, on the other hand, there was growth both in the U.S.A. (+8%: 13.8 million Euros for 2.9 million bottles) and Canada (+12%: 6.1 million Euros for 1.4 million bottles).
The new importers, on the other hand, are those markets that have only recently become purchasers of wine and sparkling wines. They are small, but promising. Among them are Australia and New Zealand, which have grown in value terms by 48%, corresponding to 5.4 million Euros and 970,000 bottles sold by 34 exporting producers, and China and Hong Kong, which have grown by 45%, corresponding to 840,000 Euros and 183,000 bottles sold by 17 exporting wineries.
Distribution in Italy by Nielsen Areas and the distribution channels in the home market
In all four of the Nielsen macro-areas, Conegliano Valdobbiadene continued to grow. The Northeast confirmed itself as the leading zone, with an increase of 6% compared to 2015 and 20 million bottles sold; the Northwest registered a rise of 8%, reaching a volume of 17.3 million bottles. If, on the other hand, the Centre remained substantially stable at 7.8 million bottles, it was the area of the South and Islands that showed the most significant acceleration, with growth of 12% and 4.4 million bottles sold.
Lastly, analysing the various sales channels, one learns that – once again in 2016 – centralized purchasing offices played the leading role with a share of 37%, followed by HORECA with 29% and wholesalers with 26%.