Wine export

Export of Hungarian wines during pandemic

The first 7 months of 2020 has been showing promising results: the export value of Hungarian wine has grown by 20% compared to the same period of 2019. The No1 market of Hungarian quality wine is the UK, so God save the queen and her people!

Not only value, quantity increased as well

The majority of the exported wine is in bulk – it represents 35% of the export income. Almost 30% came from bottled quality wine (smaller than 2 L). These positive pieces of information are somehow shadowed by the fact that the exported quantity grew at even higher extent, by 43%, which means that the wines were sold at lower price, except for sparkling wines, which more or less managed to keep their price: sparkling wine price went down by only 1.5% compared to bottled wines (of less than 2 L), which went down by 13%.

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Do the French drink Hungarian wine?

As for our export markets, the vast majority, 80% goes to the countries of the European Union. The rest is: 13.4% to non EU countries in Europe, 3.5% to Asia and 4.5% to America. regarding our bulk market, the first is Germany followed by Slovakia, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. It is interesting to see France on the 5th place, and it is more surprising to see that the quantity to France grew to 4.6 times more than last year.

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Poland is the 5th most important market for Hungarian quality wines, and the Polish are more and more interested in fine wines (Haraszthy Sauvignon Blanc imported to Poland by Lidl)

The British have good taste…

The most Hungarian quality wines are sold in the United Kingdom. The UK was leading last year as well, and export value could still increase – presumably due to successful campagnes like Furmint February by Wines of Hungary UK. It is also interesting to see that Poland is only on the 5th place – after Slovakia, the Czech R. and Germany –, even though several wineries target Poland as their number one market. Poland is a tough market, partially because spirits are more popular than wine, and also because due to climate change Polish wine is rising, so now local wines compete as well for the keen winelovers. Mihály Nagy, representative of Haraszthy Winery in Etyek wine region also considers Poland as an important market. He believes in the Polish wine drinkers, as he say, there has been a serious change in the attitude towards wines. More and more Polish people learn about wines, therefore the easy to understand aromatic wines are not the number one products there. Haraszthy sells Sauvignon Blanc to Poland through Lidl (see below) and they are proud to say that the wine sells very well!

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Lidl – an important player

When speaking about export, we must mention the German discount chain called Lidl. This company promised to play a key role in wine export, and it does so. Every year there is a serious wine selection with international experts – Caroline Gilby MW is one of them – to choose the best wines for the foreign markets. The initiative called Lidl Wine Expo and was launched in 2014. In 2019 Lidl exported almost 30% of all Hungarian exported wine. In 2019 Lidl exported 142 labels to 12 countries, the top three markets were: Germany, Poland and the UK. The top wines were Szürkebarát, Királyleányka, Egri Bikavér red blend and Furmintfrom Tokaj.

The United Kingdom is the No1 market for Hungarian quality wines, and Furmint especially shows significant increase (Zsirai Tokaji Furmint imported by UK importer Jascots)

Less imported wine

Hungary has always been a patriotic country regarding wine consumption, and this tendency continues. Import value decreased by 15% compared to the previous year, the most significant decrease is in Italian wine, our No 1. importer. However, Spanish wine import increased considerably, and so did the import of Slovakian wine, which is quite interesting since Slovakia is one of our main export market. And what kind of wine do we import from The Netherlands? This remains a question… (Since The Netherlands is an important destination and distributor of bulk wines, probably these are re-exported wines, but we owe our readers the precise answer. As soon as we find out more, we will update this article.)

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Source and special thanks

The data for this article are from an article of ‘Borászati füzetek’, a publication of HNT, the National Council of the Wine Communities. The author of the article is Dr. Jenő Szabó agricultural economist, and he kindly helped to “decipher” the rigid numbers. Original source: KSH (Central Office of Statistics).

Chart 1. Export value

Category 2019 Jan–July 2020 Jan–July Change (%)
(thousand euros) (thousand euros)
Sparkling wine 3213.8 3047.3 94.8
Wine in a bottle
maximum 2 litres
29248 20609.5 104.7
Wine in container 2–10
2268 2687.5 118.5
Other wine in container
larger than 2 litres (bulk)
2268 2687.5 118.5
Total wine made of
fresh grapes
58075.6 69683.2 120

Chart 2. Export quantity

Category 2019 Jan–July 2020 Jan–July Change (%)
(thousand euros) (thousand euros)
Sparkling wine
Wine in a bottle
maximum 2 litres
Wine in container 2–10
Other wine in container
larger than 2 litres (bulk)
Total wine made of
fresh grapes

Chart 3. Export markets of bulk wine (of wines in a container larger than 2 litres)

Category 2019 Jan–July 2020 Jan–July Change (%)
(thousand euros) (thousand euros)
Germany 6335.4 7100.6 112.1
Slovakia 3540.5 6799.1 192
Czech Republic 2924.8 3961.4 135.4
United Kingdom 2001.2 2101.8 105
France 391 1783.5 4.6 times more
Lithuania 1157.6 965.7 83.4
Italy 907.7 809.2 89.1
Austria 160.2 529.2 3.3 times more
Switzerland 187.5 163.9 307.3
Total  18158.7 25157.2 138.5

Chart 4. Export markets of quality wine (of wines in a container smaller than 2 litres)

Category 2019 Jan–July 2020 Jan–July Change (%)
(thousand euros) (thousand euros)
United Kingdom 4347.1 5090.4 117.1
Slovakia 4988.8 4030.5 80.8
Czech Republic 4267 4014.3 94.1
Germany 3208 3892 121.3
Poland 2096.8 2066.9 98.6
USA 1196.5 1738.6 145.3
Spain 1242.2 1259.1 101.4
China 1748.8 1166.2 66.7
Austria 545.8 1019.4 186.8.3
France 808.8 914.9 113.1
Lithuania 186.8 849.8 4.6 times more
Romania 536.2 688.3 128.4
Slovenia 475.4 368.8 77.6
Serbia 131.7 335.8 2.5 times more
Canada 539.9 329.3 61
Japan 279.2 311 111.4
Total  29248 30609.5 104.7

Chart 5. Import markets

Category 2019 Jan–July 2020 Jan–July Change (%)
(thousand euros) (thousand euros)
Italy 4750.5 2990.4 62.9
France 1963.6 2317.7 118
Germany 1736.6 1888.3 108.7
Spain 615.7 920.9 149.6
Slovakia 673.8 842.3 125
The Netherlands 184.7 225.6 122.1
Greece 229.2 204.2 89.1
Austria 450.7 171.2 38
Total  12058.4 10200.8 84.6