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Canada at-a-glance: the latest trends in one of Australia’s top export markets

Market Bulletin | Issue 147
Photo: Adobe Stock
12 Mar 2019
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Canada is the world’s ninth largest market for wine, sitting just above Australia at US$6 billion and growing at a rate of 2 per cent per annum. Canadians are moderate wine drinkers, with annual consumption of 16.3 litres per adult, which is more than the United States of America (USA) at 13.7 litres but much less than Australia at 29.4 litres per adult[i].

According to data from the Canadian Vintners Association, two thirds of the 52.6 million cases of wine sold in Canada in 2018 were sold in two provinces: Québec and Ontario, where 19 and 16 million cases were sold respectively. The next largest markets were British Columbia (8.5 million cases) and Alberta (5 million cases) (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Sales volume by Canadian province

Canada’s domestic wines are the lead source of wine volume

The number one source of wine in Canada is domestic, with a 29 per cent volume share, followed by Italy (14 per cent), USA (12 per cent), France (12 per cent) and Australia (9 per cent). According to Wine Intelligence, the proportion of Canadian wine drinkers consuming domestically produced wine is growing, driven mostly by Québec. White, rosé and sparkling are the key wine styles driving growth, increasing by 2 per cent, 8 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

Although more than 40 per cent of wine sold does not have a variety stated on the label, the number one variety sold in Canada is Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2018 it grew by 5 per cent to 6 million cases, and Australia has a 16 per cent share of this market. The next three most popular varieties are all white: Pinot Gris/Grigio, which grew by 5 per cent, Chardonnay, up 2 per cent, and Sauvignon Blanc, up 6 per cent.

Australia’s exports

In the 2018 calendar year, Australian wine exports to Canada increased by 12 per cent in value to $210 million – the highest value since 2011 (see Figure 2). Volume increased by 19 per cent to 74 million litres (8.2 million 9-litre case equivalents), a record level.

Figure 2: Value of Australian wine exports to Canada, unpackaged vs packaged

A record amount of unpackaged wine shipments drove the growth, increasing by 43 per cent to $47 million. In the past year, unpackaged wine shipments have moved from having a 55 per cent volume share of exports to a 61 per cent share. Double digit growth in the volume of unpackaged shipments to Quebec and British Columbia is driving this trend.

However, bottled wine shipments also increased, growing by 6 per cent to $160 million. Key price segments driving the growth in bottled wine are the $5 to $7.49 segment, up by 17 per cent to $72 million, and the above $10 segment, up by 12 per cent to $26 million.

All provinces receiving Australian wine experienced growth in Australian wine exports in the past 12 months, with the top 4 provinces accounting for 97 per cent of the growth. Exports to:

  • Ontario grew by 5 per cent to $75 million
  • British Columbia grew by 27 per cent to $56 million
  • Québec grew by 14 per cent to $46 million, and
  • Alberta grew by 7 per cent to $18 million.

Image: Wine Australia

While both red and white wine increased in value, white wine was the primary growth driver, with most of the key variety label claims growing.

The top 5 variety label claims of white wine are:

  • no label claim (dry white, sweet white etc.), exports were up by 28 per cent to $42 million
  • Chardonnay, exports were up by 37 per cent to $16 million
  • Pinot Gris, exports were up by 14 per cent to $4.7 million
  • Sauvignon Blanc, exports were up by 14 per cent to $2.6 million, and
  • Pinot Grigio, exports were down by 23 per cent to $2.5 million.

Red varieties that increased in value include Shiraz (up by 4 per cent to $46 million) and Cabernet Sauvignon (up by 8 per cent to $21 million).

Perceptions of Australian wine on the rise

According to Wine Intelligence, quality perceptions of Australian wine in Canada are rising, with English speaking Canada driving the increase by shifting from a score of 8.08 out of 10 in 2010 to 8.24 in 2018.

For more insights on the Canadian market, please download the Canada Wine Sales Report (levy-payers only).


[i] International Wine and Spirit Record


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