Wine consumption in the Maltese Islands – 2013.

 
 
Overview
 

 

Positives


Locally produced wine have gone a long way in quality standards over the last six years, since 2007, when the QWPSR wine regulations came into force, and local wines started to be produced under very rigid requirements in both viticulture, viniculture and oenology, leading to the classifications of DOK, DOKS and IGT wines.

Negatives


Retail prices of locally produced wines, as set by the winemakers, are in the main fair and reasonable, when one buys wine from a supermarket or wine shop, but then the wine industry is letting itself being shot in the foot and to lose out to imported wine brands, as happens to be the case, through high mark-ups within the restaurant industry.


Bottom Line

Wine consumers are becoming much more discerning than was the case even five years ago, and in the case of wine, whether the locally produced brands and more so the numerous imported brands, must be of the top most quality at a reasonable price range, for any brand to secure a regular, loyal following in restaurants, at which any particular wine will be asked for by name.

1
Posted August 20, 2013 by

 
Full Article
 
 

Wine Consumption In The Maltese Islands – 2013.

by Reno Spiteri BBA., Dip.Mrkt., ACWP.

 

Wine consumption in each different country around the world is normally calculated on a per capita basis, taking the estimated annual consumption in litres and dividing by the population in each particular country. Theoretically this results in a figure which indicates the amount of wine that each man, woman, and child, regardless of age consume in that country, every year.  These globalised and general statistics are compiled and published by the Wine Institute every year. Although this might give an indication of volume from a business point of view, the assumption taken on the basis of the total population, and not taking into consideration  tourist intake into each country,  and the absence of an all inclusive demographic study of the local population plus tourist intake combined,  including drinking trends in accordance with age and gender,  gives a warped statistic of what is actually taking place, and what might be the best production as well as the best marketing tool for winemakers and importers.

 

Researching consumption on an all inclusive basis, taking into consideration a demographic study of all people living or visiting the Maltese Islands, over a year would give us the following results:

 

Some four years ago, in another feature, I stated that It was estimated that the wine consumption in the Maltese Islands  was about 12,000,000 bottles of wine a year. At 75cl per bottle this would amount to  9,000,000 litres of wine every year. This statistic does not seem to have changed even now in 2013, as the figure of 12,000,000 bottles, is still being taken as the consumption benchmark.

 

A study which takes into full consideration the demographic situation in the Maltese Islands for the local population has revealed the following statistics:

 

Population  of the Maltese Islands currently estimated at  :  410,000, being the actual native population as well as some 10,000/20,000 foreign residents who live in Malta.

 

These are divided in approximate age and gender structures as follows:

(1):  0 – 14 years of age:  15.4% – 32,418 males and 30,882 females.

(2):  15 – 24 years of age: 13.1% – 27,689 males and 26,159 females.

(3):  25 – 54 years of age: 40.7% – 85,129 males and 81,881 females.

(4):  55 – 64 years of age: 14.2% – 28,949 males and 29,230 females.

(5):  65 years and over:     16.5% –  29,846 males and 37,813 females.

 

From the above demographic structure, one would not consider groups (1) and (2) to be wine consumers, although it is known that a minority in group (2) might occasionally indulge in a bout of juvenile binge drinking over a weekend during which cheap wine of questionable  quality is consumed.  Taking an approximation of the percentage of the population that might be wine consumers we would place a calculated estimate of 40% of the total population,  thus giving us  164,000 regular , Maltese wine consumers.

 

One has to take into consideration the 1,400,000 tourists that visit the Maltese Islands yearly, and considering the same demographic  structure as for the local population,  thus assuming that 40% of these  visitors   consumed wine whilst in Malta, we would come to a figure of  560,000 visitors that might have purchased wine whilst on a visit here. But as a wine  collegeau has correctly pointed out, these 560,000 wine consuming visitors are not here all the year round, and a daily average has to be taken. Viz: 560,000 divided by 365 (daily average foreign consumers) = 1534

 

This would finally give us a grand total of wine consumers daily :

164,000 locals + 1534 visitors =  165,534 wine consumers on a daily basis.

Wine consumption yearly estimated on 2013 figures is 12,000,000 giving us a daily consumption of:

12,000,000 divided by 365 = 32,877 bottles a day.

Therefore the daily average consumption per capita is: 32,877 divided by 165,534 = 0.1986 bottle or 0.149litres per day.

This would make the per capita consumption on a yearly basis of: 0.149 X 365 = 54.4 litres per person per year all inclusive of both wine consuming locals and wine consuming visitors.

To understand this further this would work out to just an average of:   4.53 litres or  6 bottles (of 75cl each) of wine per month per person .

Comparing  these results,  for example with countries like Luxembourg where wine consumption is in the region of 25,570,000 litres per year, with a population  slightly larger than Malta at some 492,000, but having a lower tourist intake at 871,000  tourists yearly, and in the same manner working on a demographic study of 40 per cent of the total population plus visitors,  assumed being wine drinkers, taken on a daily basis, this will work out at a per capita consumption of: 52 litres of wine per person per year in Luxemburg.

This shows that on an average, world view, between us and a similarly sized ( population-plus-visitors-wise) country, whose citizens might be wealthier than us, the average per capita consumption is nearly at par, not taking of course the quality of wine consumed in consideration. Some might not agree with these figures as they might simply fall for the false per capita consumption figure derived by dividing the total consumption by the population. But as was highlighted above, not everyone drinks wine, and children do form a large part of the population plus other who are non-drinkers.

So how is this generated in distribution between locally produced wine and imported wine?

 

Out of the 12,000,000 bottles of wines consumed,  some 60% are estimated to be imported wines, thus giving us about 720,000 bottles of imported wines consumed in Malta, and 40% local wine consumption thus giving us a consumption figure of  4,800,000 bottles of locally produced wine, which could be the total production of wine from all registered wineries in the Maltese Islands combined.

 

Now we come to the most important question of :  Who drinks what?

 A survey among Maltese and foreign consumers, as well as discussions held with various restaurateurs indicated that  most locals invariably consume imported wine, this includes also purchase of wine from supermarkets; whereas the majority of visitors would opt for locally produced wine, albeit  not the top of the range wines.

During a recent visit to a local vineyard, by the Hon.Roderick Galdes, Agriculture Parliamentary Secretary,  as was reported in the media,  the Honourable gentleman stated that the wine industry in Malta needed to be protected. Gone are the days of creating sanctions against importation of wine as we had a decade or two ago.  Jeremy  Cassar , of local winemakers Marsovin, stated at the same occasion that above all, Government should maintain rigid controls on the production of local wines, “It’s only through the commitment of producers and the controls set up by Government, that the wine sector can grow”, he was quoted as saying.  I fully concur with this statement, as rigid controls are necessary from vineyard to the bottle, if we are to produce a quality wine product, from locally cultivated, grown and harvested grapes, that would appeal to a larger and more selective consumer base.

 

Locally produced wine have gone a long way in quality standards over the last six years, since 2007, when  the QWPSR wine regulations came into force, and local wines started to be produced under very rigid requirements in both viticulture, viniculture and oenology, leading to the classifications of DOK, DOKS and IGT wines. What the industry needs, in my opinion, is not government protection in the restriction of, and on, imports which is impossible now that we are a member state of the European Union,  but protection of the local wine product from unwarranted high prices and extortionist mark-ups  in certain restaurants and hotels everywhere in the Maltese Islands. This is one reason as to why, local wine consumers opt for imported wines when dining in restaurants. It is a shame to see a splendid local wine which retails at an average of some EUR13.5, marked-up to anywhere between Eur35 and EUR48 in certain restaurants, and certain volume produced wines structured for easy and every day drinking, which sell retail for under Eur5 , and which are readily available in every mass market supermarket all over Malta and Gozo,  are marked-up  in local eateries, to anywhere between Eur12 to Eur25.  This is where the government should protect the wine industry in Malta, by establishing reasonable  end-consumer prices  for locally produced wine brands, in restaurants and hotels.

 

Retail prices of locally produced wines, as set by the winemakers,  are in the main fair and reasonable, when one buys wine from a supermarket or wine shop, but then the wine industry is letting itself being shot in the foot and to lose out to imported wine brands,  as happens to be the case, through high mark-ups within the restaurant industry.  The local wine industry, above all, must  produce and bring to the market, quality wines that would do them and the restaurants that stock them proud.  In some cases we do find far too many wine brands from individual producers, some of which, although suitable as quaffing wines for sale to the mass market, are not really suitable as restaurant wines. This also applies to the numerous, entry level and cheap wines that are imported, and which find themselves on restaurants’ and hotels’  winelists through the selling techniques  of wine salespersons, and due possibly to the poor knowledge of wine quality at certain establishments.

 

Wine consumers are becoming much more discerning than was the case even five years ago, and in the case of wine, whether the locally produced brands and more so the numerous imported brands, must be of the top most quality at a reasonable price range, for any brand to secure a regular, loyal following in restaurants, at which any particular wine will be asked for by name.

 

Reno Spiteri,

WRMC Administrator & Assessor.

Restaurants & Wine Reviewer and Consultant.


One Comment


  1.  

    Dear Reno,

    Independently of the case you are making here, I wish to point out that your formula to calculate the annual consumption per head seems wrong to me.
    The ‘combined wine drinking population’, as you call it, is off because you are not taking into account the average length of stay. You are assuming that the visitors would drink as much in 7 days as residents do in about 365 days.
    You are probably correct, though, in assuming that foreign visitors enjoy Maltese wines more often than Maltese residents.
    It would be interesting to count the percentage of Maltese wines you personally have chosen during all your restaurants assessments. I would say that if you are living in Malta, chances are that 1 bottle in every 4 you consume is locally produced. Are you averaging that?

    Cheers,
    Georges





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