Travel time, wine time, Adegga-time! I’m heading for Adegga wine market in Lisbon, Portugal – again! Last time was great, this it should be even better! It always great to meet #winelover brothers and sisters – it’s always great to be Portugal and damn – it’ll be great to have some good Portuguese wines!
But before going I ask myself how does the market look for Portuguese wines in Sweden? I wish I could say fab, but I can’t. With so many fab wines coming out of Portugal, I know I’ve tasted them, Portugal should kill on the Swedish market. They are relatively cheap, they are really good and it works great with Swedish food. Now I’m not talking about the port or madeira wine, they also work well against Swedish food – especially now for Christmas and Swedish gingerbread. I bring with me a few different brands to Andre Ribeirinho & co so they can taste something better than the IKEA version!
I did some research on Portuguese wines in Sweden right now – when it comes to sales! Sweden has a monopoly, Systembolaget, when it comes to spirits, wine and beer (over 3.5% alcohol). The figures do not include sales at restaurants nor the internet commerce. The latter is a small but growing market, especially when it comes to wines that are a bit higher in price, about 10 euros and upwards, as well as more exclusive wines.
I have looked at Systembolaget’s sales statistics for the wine during the time period 2010-2014 period, excluding fortified wines, in the 3rd quarter, as that’s the numbers we have for 2014. This shows an increase in sales of wine, when it comes to the number of liters of wine sold by about 5.8%. From 135 532 059 liters in 2010 to 143 896 477 liters in 2014. During the same period, sales of Portuguese wine increased from 3,212,965 liters to 3,704,680 liters during the same period.
Year Sold l. total % total sales white / red wine.
2014 3 704 680 2,6 % 1,0 % 3,9 % 2013 3 886 265 2,7 % 1,4 % 3,3 % 2012 3 942 775 2,8 % 1,6 % 3,2 % 2011 3 806 311 2,7 % 1,2 % 3,2 % 2010 3 212 965 2,4 % 0,6 % 3,5 % Sales of wines from Portugal until the 3rd quarter, 2010-2014, at Systembolaget
In 2011 and 2012 we can see an increase in sales of Portuguese wines at the Monopoly. The sales in 2014 are still higher than in 2010 but not as high as in the top year 2012. Red wines are doing better than white wines. However, one can note that sales leveled off and declined in total, even though we see a slight increase in total when it comes to the sale of wine. So far this year, the increase is about 0.5% in total while Portugese wines sales has decreased by 4.7 % in same period.
At the moment there are about 400 Portuguese products listed in the Monoploy, some of these are the same wine but in different packages and sizes, some are the same wine but of different vintages. Here it is important to understand how the Swedish Monopoly works, in reality there are various types of ranges.
One is the Monopoly store catalog, this are products that you can find in about 420 stores that make up Systembolaget. You will not find all products in all stores, the products are divided up and sold, depending on the size of the store and where in Sweden it is located. Normally, a commodity is to be sold for a certain period of time, for example during a year in as many stores as possible. This favors large producers and penalizes countries with many small producers such as Portugal.
There are also a range called the ordering sortimenetet, this is handled by the importers who sell wines at Systembolaget. These wines can be ordered either in one of the stores or on the internet. Then they are shipped to the store of your choice, or to a store the importer select. These wines can in many respects be compared with any internet commerce in the EU, with the exception that it is the state that controls the management of the wines. If a wines sells big enough that wine can qualify to get into the store catalog.
If you haven’t managed to get into the store catalog or if you don’t have a big enough production then it is very important to find the right importer, someone who wants to work for you and your wine. Someone who either works well towards restaurants, go around showing your wine to consumers on wine markets or have a good hand with wine journalists, bloggers or communicators. This is also why it is important to come to Sweden and show yourself on these venues.
Below you can see how many products there are in the different categories, how many of those who are in the store catalog or ordering sortiment. I have also added how many are available at Bag-in-Box.
Type of wine in total store catalog ordering sort BiB Red wine 156 45 129 12 White wine 70 12 62 2 Rosé wine 17 6 12 1 Sparkling 4 1 4 - Port Wine 117 42 87 - Madeira 18 11 7 - Note that numbers does not add up. These figures are taken from Systembolaget's website, by looking at the total number, the number in shops and the number in the ordering sortiment. The reason the numbers does not add up us that some wines are available in the store catalog at the same time as it's also in the ordering sortiment.
Notably, although there are quite a few products, is that there are not that many available within the stores. In total there are 117 products that is in one store or another at this moment. Of these about 45% are as port or madeira wine. This do consolidates the image of Portugal as a fortified wine country. This may be one reason that ordinary wine is not noticed as much or do not become an obvious choice for most consumers .
To give you an idea of how it would be in a normal medium-sized store in a medium-sized city. The shop according to Systembolaget’s website have about 1,000 wines. If you look at the Portugese wines and take the port and madeira wines out of the equation they have 24 wines from Portugal. 15 red, 5 white and 4 rosé wines. The majority of these are relatively inexpensive wines that cost between 50-75 crowns (5-7 euros) or are in Bag-in-Boxes. Only two are 8 euros or higher.
The exceptions is an alvarinho from Anselmo Mendes and a cabernet sauvignon from Quinta de Chocapalha. There is also a good value wine from José Maria da Fonseca Ripanço Private Selection plus some decent port wine and a really good Madeira.
The majority of wines sold at the Monoploy are cheap wines or bag-in-box wines. About 60% of all wine sold in the Monoploy are Bag-in-Box wine, priced at ca 4,5-8 euro/liter, (the biggest seller at ca 4,8-6 euros). One reason that Portugal is not taking off could be that you get low visibility on the shelves: 15 -5 wines will be one or max two meters of shelf space, which tend to be quickly lost in the crowd of many wines in a big store.
What I believe is the main reason though, is that at Systembolaget, the wines I meet when I am in the Portugal section, small as it is, isn’t all that exciting – with the exception of one or two bottles. At Adegga wine market I meet 40 produceras where most have exciting wines to show. Really good wines at great prices. Wines that have personality and that really makes you want to discover more of Portuguese wines. Some of these wines are available in Sweden, hidden in ordering sortiment. I find them, others wine nerds and #winelovers do too, but most regular customers do not – at least not yet.
There I have a task as a #portuguesewinelover and as a wine blogger and wine writer, there you as a wine maker have a task to chose your importers well, to make sure they work for you and of course and perhaps most important – continue to make great wines.
Ps. Arto – do you rememeber these? Ds.