Sales of Sherry continue to lose volume but these losses are concentrated in the cheap own label or BOB (buyer’s own brand) markets, particularly supermarket chains in Holland and Germany. The majority of bodegas ceased supplying these wines some time ago. On the other hand the superior quality more expensive wines continue to grow and are slowly bringing the DO towards decent profit margins.
The Consejo’s figures for wines leaving the bodegas up to the end of November show sales of 31 million litres which represent an annual drop of 4.8%, but that comes down to 34.3 million litres or 4.5% over the last twelve months. It is not all bad however; along with the rise in sales value the other good news is that Sherry sales in the UK have fallen by only 0.34% or barely 0.5% for the twelve months, putting a virtual end years of decline in Sherry’s biggest export market and the second biggest after Spain itself.
Figures from the Spanish institute for foreign commerce (ICEX) confirm the improvement in the UK market showing that while volumes have fallen in recent years they have been cancelled out by a rise in value per litre sold and thus in quality. Sherry continues to be the UK’s leading fortified wine and despite a fall in sales to supermarkets, there has been a rise of 7% in volume and 9% in value in bars, restaurant and wine shops. This implies an improvement in Sherry’s image among younger consumers; exactly what the bodegas and the Consejo have long been hoping for.
According to ICEX figures, UK imports of bottled Sherry in 2015 came to 6.3 million litres with a value of £18.6 million (21.2 million € at today’s rates). The previous year imports were 6.6 million litres and the value was the same, meaning that the average price for a litre has increased by 4.6% or from £2.82 to £2.95. According to the Consejo, the UK is the only export market showing improvement. In the period January to November exports fell by 8.75% with a volume of about 20.2 million litres, but for the twelve months of 2016 they fell by 7.75% with a volume of 22.4 million litres.
With the exception of the UK, traditional European markets have seen Sherry sales fall by some 15%, so despite the improvement in the UK, the average for 2016 comes to about 7.2% or 20.3 million litres. The American market is importing around 1.7 million litres of which 1.25 million litres go to the USA after a recent fall of 13%. In Asia sales have dropped nearly 9% or 256,309 litres over the twelve months, however the Spanish market, now the largest, has grown by 3.65% or 10.7 million litres to November, or 2.3% with 11.9 million litres for the twelve months.
Good New Year news for González Byass: The Spanish association of journalists and wine writers (AEPEV) has announced its awards and picked Tio Pepe en rama as the best Sherry. The 1,055 wines and spirits submitted to the annual competition were whittled down to 143 and 41 respectively. AEPEV counts on much expertise and its aim is to promote wine, especially Spanish wine, at home and abroad. Meanwhile the bodega is hosting the X Pasarela Flamenca, a fashion show for designer flamenco clothes, starting on the 9th February. Thirty designers will be there along with top model Alba Carrillo, singer Juan Peña and bullfighter Juan José Padilla.