The Russian wine market might not be as exciting as China, but consumption is still set to rise by almost 18 percent by 2016.
Despite bureaucratic and legal hurdles, a new report published by research specialists Wine Intelligence suggests there is a “degree of cautious optimism” within the country’s wine industry.
The Russian market has grown by less than 2 percent since 2007, according to the latest figures from International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR). The global economic downturn has slowed growth, but the IWSR predicts that Russia will consume more than 115 million nine-liter cases within three years, leapfrogging Argentina to become the world’s seventh-largest wine market by volume.
However, a recent ban on alcohol advertising in Russia, plus “fears over constantly morphing government regulation, combined with a stifling bureaucracy and the ever-present specter of corruption,” could provide a challenge to doing business in Russia, says Wine Intelligence in its report. Nevertheless, the government in Moscow believes that Russians should be encouraged to switch to wine from vodka as a way of tackling high alcohol consumption, which may give the category a boost.
In terms of consumer preferences, the researchers discovered that Russians are not very adventurous when it comes to imported wine, preferring the Old World over the new. France and Italy enjoy the highest levels of consumer awareness, while Chile is the most popular New World wine-producing country, “with 66 percent aware of Chilean wine and 38 percent having bought it in the past six months.”
There are 5.7 million drinkers of imported wine in Moscow and St. Petersburg alone, according to the Wine Intelligence report, "and those in the trade are positive that there will be growth beyond these hubs."
* The full report, "Doing Business In Russia," is available from Wine Intelligence at 1,000 pounds ($1,584).