MEDITERRANEAN. The Mediterranean wine market is a reality, and it is not a recent phenomenon. Dating back to Phoenician times, it was one of the first examples of organized trade, and Vinisud owes much of its success to the fact that it continues to flourish.
However, in an international market dominated by the three largest producers in the world - the Mediterranean countries of Italy, France and Spain - this Mediterranean market no longer consists of regional activity based on trade between these three countries, or between the countries in the Mediterranean basin, or even east to west trade. It is essentially a sub-set of operations that have become globalized, in terms of production, markets and the flow of goods.
Outside of the specific case of France, where this market is significant – for example, in 2010, 78% of French imports came from Spain or Italy, corresponding to 4.7 million hectolitres, which is considerable – the flow of wine between Mediterranean countries is small, as their export markets are primarily major consumers such as the United Kingdom, the north of Europe, the USA and now Asia.
The market is therefore real, but it is also necessary to take into account the factors slowing growth in the Mediterranean wine trade.
A wine-centred culture
All of the countries around the Mediterranean produce wine, the Mediterranean was not only the birth place of wine, wine is also central to Mediterranean civilization. This situation results in a "cultural vinocentrism" that reduces exchanges between these countries. As my friend Ivan Giuliani, a wine producer in Liguria once joked, "I thought that selling my wine in France would be like selling ice-cream in Alaska". Outside of the special "iconic wines" segment and wines sold by brands, such as Cava for example, the same could be said of Italy, Spain, Turkey, or even North African countries.
There is another, more surprising factor: many regional Mediterranean products are only available in small quantities because tourism absorbs all of the local production; Corsica, or Croatia are perfect examples, with good quality wines for which there is real demand, but wine producers do not have sufficient volumes to sustain an export market.
A final curb on growth is the lack of large players - producers or distributors- specializing in several Mediterranean vineyards, who could promote a Mediterranean label and thereby develop trade. Investments tend to focus on the New World and emerging countries such as Brazil or China, and yet the Mediterranean has superb terroirs and grape varieties! Look at Turkey, which is set to become one of tomorrow's great producers.
Logistics must play a vital role in this evolution of the markets. As an importer of Mediterranean wines, I am aware that in terms of regulations, infrastructure and logistical resources, it is now possible to operate in a well-organized, secure environment, that includes quality control, and acceptable time frames and prices.
What is missing are efficient means, at reasonable prices, of delivering to final customers – private or trade – in the restrictive context of bonded storage in which the duty on products is suspended.
Special issue : Ensuring the logistical safety and security of Mediterranean wines
En français : La logistique des vins méditerranéens
Special issue Econostrum.info