WorldWine Blog


German wine export: Don't ever trust statistics ...

No, Germany's wine business figures in 2010 really were not bright at all. Regardless of how you looked at them. This, at least, was the impression one could get reading the official statistics published by the German Wine Institute (DWI) which we recently reported on ENO WorldWine. But the DWI would not be the DWI, and March would not be the month of ProWine, Germany's important wine show, if they had not at least tried to transform those sad numbers into a sound jubilation. And they really (nearly) succeeded.

"German Quality Wine Exports Post Healthy Increase in 2010" was the title of an article published on the DWI's website, an increase which was specified at 8 per cent as compared to to the year before, for a total for 1.25 m hl. Even the export value, so the article, had gone up by 6 per cent, which - if you take into account a slight inflation - means that the value per litre had gone considerably down. But who cares: volumes increased, values increased - a happy story altogether?

It was a happy story at least for those who mistook the rise of "quality wine exports" for a rise of "wine exports", something which of course (!) was far from being intended by the DWI, but had happened in nearly all the media who spread the DWI message. Wein-Export gestiegen" (wine exports rise) or "German vintners export more wine" was the common denominator of most of the publications reporting the DWI jubilation.

Obviously no one had noticed the difference, and no one had understood that German quality wines only come up for a value share of 80 % of total exports, the volume share being considerably lower. Thus, the true message of the figures the DWI had published, was not that "German wine exports" had gone up by 8 per cent but that about 50 or 60 or 70 per cent of total German wine exports had gone up by 8 per cent, whatever that could mean for the total.

Thus, our impression, published in the above mentioned article, that German wine exports have been languishing for a long time and still are, is absolutely correct. In spite of jubilations and manipulations of all kind.

If you take a closer look at the figures published by the DWi, things become even more gruesome. "In the British market (Germany's third important, EWW) German wine exporters had to accept a loss in terms of value (down 16 percent) and volume (down 7 percent)", states the DWI-article, and this means that there has been a dramatic slump of of value per litre. Same phenomenon in the Netherlands, where quantities rose by 6 per cent, while the revenue went down by 3 per cent, and the same tendency characterized business in Russia, Switzerland, Finland and the US. Only Canada and China offered a slightly brighter picture.

But, as I said, March is the month of ProWein. And, of course, you cannot welcome the world's most important producers and buyers telling them that your business is not doing well. Right?

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