“Italian wines are not easy, educating retailers and consumers is key”

Interview with Stevie Kim, managing director of Vinitaly International
“Italian wines are not easy, educating retailers and consumers is key”

Demand for Italian wines is growing worldwide but teaching distributors and consumers to appreciate the country’s wealth of native varietals is necessary to help many more wine producers enter the US market, said Stevie Kim, managing director of Vinitaly International.

“Italian wine is actually quite complicated. Italian wine is fairly mature in America, however Italian wines are not as easy as people think they are,” Kim said in this video interview with Italianfood.net.

Italy, the largest producer of wine worldwide, is the world’s first exporter of wine to the US market with sales of €1.4 billion in November 2015, according to figures by the US Department of Commerce elaborated by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA-ICE)

Total export sales of Italian wine increased by around 6% in 2015 from the previous year to a record €5.4 billion, according to Wine Monitor by Nomisma.

The stronger dollar helped exports last year, but volumes dipped also because of a less generous grape harvest in 2014, according to the Wine Monitor. Sparkling wines such as Prosecco are particularly on demand, with exports rising more than 10% both in terms of volumes and prices. However, foreign demand of Italian bulk wine is falling also because of fierce competition from Spain, according to Wine Monitor.

In this encouraging scenario, a window opens to hundreds of Italian wines still relatively unknown abroad and often produced by family-owned, small-sized wine makers in Italy. This is why helping those wines connect with the industry and the consumers is necessary, Kim said.

“We are educating the wine trade most of all, so they can educate consumers,” said Kim, who last month participated in the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, where Vinitaly hosted presentations open to distributors and importers.

Another top US event is Vino 2016 – the Italian wine week organized by ITA, now in its fifth edition and taking place in New York from February 7-9, which this year will celebrate the wines of southern Italy and is expected to draw over 200 Italian wineries and US importers, including vintners at their debut in the United States.

Asked to give an advice to new entrants, Kim said that being prepared and studying the marketplace is essential. “They have to do their homework, this is the single advice I can give,” Kim said.

By Antonella Ciancio

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