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Are Filipinos drinking the same wines the world is drinking?

YELLOW TAIL, Barefoot, and Gato Negro are among the world’s most powerful wine brands.

WHEN I started my wine career working for a huge winery over two decades ago, I got my training in California. Back then, the wine brands I was familiar with were mostly those available in Philippines and those seen in North America as I traveled to both the US and Canada in the mid to late 1990s. I remember that back then, Blue Nun, Mateus, Carlo Rossi, and Gato Negro were among the more visible wine brands in Manila, while in North America, the wine scene was obviously dominated by Californian brands Like Gallo, Kendall-Jackson, Mondavi, and jug wines like Carlo Rossi, Almaden, and Inglenook.

Back in the 1990s, the internet was a relatively new technology, and Google only started in 1998, so it was quite hard to know what wine brands the world was drinking. Bit since then, in my travels to Asia, to almost all of Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Korea, I started to get a better “feel” of what wine brands are popular and available in the different countries.

With the Philippines fortunately having one of the most reasonable taxes imposed on wine, and since almost 100% of wines are imported, there is actually no scarcity of brands, varietals, wine regions, and wine producing countries in our ever-growing selection. This is despite the fact our country’s wine consumption is literally only a trickle (100 ml. per capita consumption) compared to our neighbors like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and even Thailand. Choices galore for a small, albeit growing wine market.

Are you therefore not curious about what wine brands the world in general is drinking, and if these brands are also available locally?

WINE CONSUMPTION DURING THE PANDEMIC
Based on numbers released by the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), headquartered in Paris, global wine consumption was down 3% in 2020, the start of the pandemic crisis. While wine consumption in richer First World countries like the US and Australia is slightly up, in rest of the world, including Europe and Asia, it is mostly down, with poorer countries like the Philippines suffering huge wine consumption cuts.

The hospitality (on-premise) sector was a significant reason as this distribution segment was either totally or partially shut down during the pandemic. However, from the demise of on-premise wine consumption, the notable rise of e-commerce and the strengthening of the retail segment made the final number of -3% look tolerable given the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) circumstances.

The Philippines was in the same boat as the global market was since the hospitality sector here was almost non-existent in 2020 — plus we had to deal with liquor bans too. The e-commerce/online wine business became a major wine distribution segment, and retail, when not dealing with the liquor bans, continues to be steady.

Though still less than half way in, 2021 is expected to be a decent recovery year, especially if the world gets a good percentage of the population vaccinated.

THE GLOBAL WINE BRAND POWER INDEX AND ITS METHODOLOGY
In 2018, Wine Intelligence, a London-based wine specialist research company which was established in 2002, started its annual series, the Global Wine Brand Power Index. The initial study was based on inputs from 16,000 wine consumers in 15 key global wine markets, statistically representing 380 million wine drinkers. The initial 15 key markets used as a basis were Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the USA. This was the first study of its kind which was not purely based on sales volumes but also on other factors like awareness, purchase loyalty, and brand connection.

Wine Intelligence created Vinitrac, its patented global survey methodology for wine drinkers, which monitors and tracks the attitudes and behaviors of wine consumers around the world.

There are six major brand health factors taken into consideration namely: brand awareness, purchase, conversion, consideration, brand affinity, and recommendation.

THE 2021 EDITION
Just recently, Wine Intelligence announced the result of its Global Wine Brand Power Index for 2021. This is their 4th report and is much bigger in scope. The 2021 report was collated from surveys conducted with over 25,000 wine consumers in 25 key global markets/countries. The original 15 countries included in the initial Global Wine Brand Power Index of 2018 were joined by Belgium, Columbia, Finland, Mexico, and Netherlands in the last two years, and in 2021, another five additional countries were added. Three of the five new markets added are also staunch wine producing countries like Argentina, New Zealand, and Italy. Key wine markets like Russia and our fellow Southeast Asian neighbor Singapore, made up the last two markets of the 25 countries in this 2021 elaborate study.

The 25,000+ wine consumers in 25 countries surveyed represent over 435 million wine drinkers globally. This study can be purchased at the official Wine Intelligence website https://www.wineintelligence.com/downloads/global-wine-brand-power-index-2021/

It should, however, be noted that wine producing countries in the survey will probably have home-grown local brands topping this Brand Power index, so what is going to be interesting to see is how these big local brands perform outside of their home base and against other international brands. For example, China has Great Wall and Changyu as its top wine brands, both huge wineries predominantly supplying domestic consumption. Yet around 40% of wines in the Chinese market are still imported, so in the Global Wine Brand Power Index, several international wine brands would make the survey conducted in China.

WORLD’S TOP 10 MOST POWERFUL WINE BRANDS FOR 2021
Here are the Top 10 most powerful wine brands based on the Wine Intelligence’ Global Wine Brand Power Index this year. It is not surprising that all the top 10 wine brands are also present in the Philippines. The list below includes the wine’s country of origin and the name of the importer-distributor of these brands locally.

o #1 Yellow Tail — from Australia, Golden Wines, Inc.

o #2 Casillero de Diablo — from Chile, Fly Ace Corp.

o #3 Jacob’s Creek — from Australia, Pernod Ricard Philippines, Inc.

o #4 Gallo Family Vineyards — from USA, Emperador Distillers. Inc.

o #5 Barefoot — from USA, Emperador Distillers, Inc.

o #6 Gato Negro — from Chile, Golden Wines, Inc.

o #7 JP Chenet — from France, BestWorld Beverage Brands, Inc.

o #8 Mouton Cadet — from France, Titania Wine Cellar, Inc.

o #9 Vina Santa Carolina — from Chile, Premier Wine & Spirits, Inc.

o #10 Torres — from Spain, Future Trade International Inc.

Since the start of this series, Yellow Tail and Casillero de Diablo have kept their first and second place power brand rankings respectively, while Gallo and Jacob’s Creek have been contesting the third and fourth spot throughout the four years of this series.

Filipino consumers can easily find these brands in regular retail outlets. Except for Mouton Cadet, the other nine wine brands are selling at below P1,000 per bottle, with most of them — from Yellow Tail, Gallo, Barefoot, Gato Negro, JP Chenet to Vina Santa Carolina — retailing at the sub-P500 per bottle range.

New World wine countries like Australia, Chile, and the US comprised seven of the Top 10 power wine brand origins.

It is nice to know that Filipinos, despite being at the infancy stage of the wine drinking culture, still have access to the most powerful wine brands the world is drinking.

Which brands from the above top 10 list do you drink, or do you have a different preferred brand? Let me know ….

The author is the only Filipino member of the UK-based Circle of Wine Writers. For comments, inquiries, wine event coverage, wine consultancy and other wine related concerns, e-mail the author at protegeinc@yahoo.com or via Twitter at www.twitter.com/sherwinlao

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