If, in the waning hours of 2014, you find yourself drinking sparkling wine, including from the region of France that earns it the name Champagne, you can impress your fellow revelers with the following statistics. (That assumes, of course, that you have the kind of friends who can be impressed by import-export trade data.)
It has been a bubbly year for sparkling wine imports. They will set a record in 2014, as will overall wine imports, annual U.S. Census Bureau statistics will show when they are released in February. Through October, sparkling wine imports were worth $731.15 million and overall wine imports $4.48 billion, according to WorldCity analysis of the latest data. Overall wine imports are up a relatively modest 2.53 percent over the same 10-month period last year while sparkling wine is up 11.54 percent.
There are more bubbles in more wine. Because of the rapid growth, sparkling wine imports are accounting for a greater percentage of total wine imports in 2014 than at any time in more than a decade, although the variance has been limited over the years. Through the first 10 months of 2014, sparkling wine imports accounted for 16.31 percent of all wine imports. Five years ago, that percentage was 11.62 percent.
Heard of Prosecco? The most-rapid growth in sparkling wine imports is not those originating in France but in Italy, which is perhaps best known for one of its leading varieties, Prosecco. France will end the year responsible for a lower percentage of sparkling wine imports than any year in more than a decade, albeit a still dominant one. Through October of this year, imports from France accounted for 62.18 percent of all imports. But at this point a decade ago, in 2004, more than 79 percent of all imports originated in France. Italy, on the other hand, accounted for just 11.81 percent of the total through the first 10 months of 2004. This year, the percentage is 27.66 percent.
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South Florida is not a critical player on the import side, but it is an important one. Although almost half of the nation’s sparkling wine imports enter the United States at the Port of Newark, part of the New York City Customs district, Port Everglades ranks No. 5 and Port Miami No. 7 — aided not just by a large population but also by a buoyant cruise industry and duty-free business. Port Everglades’ market share has more than tripled since the same first 10 months of 2009, from 1.52 percent to 4.86 percent. Port Miami’s market share has fallen slightly in that time period, from 5.75 percent to 3.93 percent.
This year, Port Everglades’ imports more closely mirror the national trend — Italy gaining market share at the expense of France — than do those at Port Miami. From France, the Broward County port received 56.98 percent of its sparkling wine — slightly below the U.S. average — while Italy’s total was 28.49 percent, largely in line with the national market share. Spain, whose sparkling wine is often sold as Cava, accounted for 13.65 percent.
At Port Miami, it’s all about France, with 96.37 percent hailing from the nation that birthed what is essentially carbonated wine — it’s actually yeast and sugar added for a second fermentation to create the bubbles, with special glass to prevent exploding bottles and a special cork for a similar reason. Italy accounts for 1.33 percent and Spain 1.15 percent.
Those percentages are hardly static, however, and essentially rely not on any port allegiance to a particular nation but supply chains generally set in motion by logistics companies. For example, Port Miami had 21.09 percent of its sparkling wine imports from Italy through October of 2010. Port Everglades had 51.52 percent of its imports from Spain through October of the preceding year.
The United States has a significant sparkling wine trade imbalance. But, as in a number of cases, the imbalance is not because the United States doesn’t produce extensively but because — and New Year’s Eve will be proof positive of this — Americans consume so much of what we do produce. (Overall, for all manufactured goods, the United States is the world’s second largest producer, behind China.) According to the Wine Institute, a California-based trade group, about 56 percent of the sparkling wine consumed in the United States is produced in the United States. Looking strictly at exports and imports, however, the United States is running a deficit totaling $698.72 million this year, with — and here’s the imbalance — about 96 cents of every dollar in sparkling wine trade a U.S. import and just 4 cents an export. The deficit will be the largest ever in 2014 and the “trade balance” — the percentage of total trade that is a U.S. export — will be among the lowest.
Diminutive as they are, the largest four markets for U.S. exports are not particularly surprising, though No. 5 is a curiosity, to be sure. Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands — a European distribution hub — and Japan account for 49.66 percent of the total this year. At No. 5 is Togo, a small and impoverished West African nation with a per capita GDP of $1,100, according to U.S. government statistics. Colombia and Panama are also in the top 10.
South Florida is not a critical player on the export side either, but it is an important one. While the Port of Oakland accounts for 30 percent of the total, not surprising given its proximity to the wine-producing region of Northern California, Port Miami ranks No. 5, with 6.25 percent of the total, the highest percentage in three years, while Port Everglades ranks No. 15, with a 1.50 percent market share, the highest percentage in two years. More than 60 percent of Port Miami exports go to, somewhat surprisingly, the Netherlands, with more than a quarter to Japan. At Port Everglades, almost 38 percent go to Jamaica, another 16.04 percent to the Cayman Islands and 10.55 percent to Paraguay.
Ken Roberts is founder and president of WorldCity, a Coral Gables-based company that pays attention to the impact of globalization’s impact on local communities. email@example.com.
U.S. imports of sparkling wine
October 2014 YTD
Change in rank
Source: WorldCity analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data