Lithuania is a relatively small country, with a population of almost 3 million, but a vital wine market in the Baltic region. Producers looking for success here can start working with wine importers and distributors from Lithuania and if their brands are successful here, the expansion to Estonia, Latvia and even Belarus will be an easy step to make. According to estimates, over 70% of the country’s wine imports are quickly exported again to the region.
Despite solid economic growth. Lithuania had a negative trade balance of US$4.56 billion net imports, The country is a major importer of beverages, having an import value of US$538.36 million. Wine is doing very well, with double-digit growth for imports that even reached over 30% a couple of years ago.
Most of the wine imported comes from European suppliers: Italy, France, Spain and Germany. Imports by volume by country: France (21K tones), Italy (18K tones) and Spain (16K tones) are the main suppliers, with a combined 78% share of total imports.
By value, Italy takes first place with US$71.11 million, followed by France with US$69.52 and Spain with US$50.43 million.
The Lithuanian market is dominated by several pan-Baltic trading companies. During 2018 these imported 92 million liters of wine, of which 61 million liters were re-exported to eastern markets, like Belarus and then Russia. Some wine imported into the country is also re-exported to Latvia or Estonia. Therefore, there is a mismatch between import statistics and the actual consumption of wine in Lithuania which can create some problems for companies who want clear data before entering the market.
There is also a trend towards a consolidation of the main players – Filipopolis, for example, one of the largest wine distributors in Lithuania, was purchased by Henkell & Co Gruppe two years ago.
The drastic measures that Lithuania took in the last years, culminating with a widespread ban on alcohol advertising in 2018 has also had powerful effects on this sector. Recent statistics show that the consumption of spirits is decreasing, a goal that was very important for the authorities. This has somewhat benefited wine consumption because many customers shifted to this category. However, wine consumption per capita is still low – the average per capita stands at around 15.3 l.
The good news is that Lithuanian consumers’ wine knowledge is quickly growing and their tastes are more demanding, which opens the way for higher-priced, better quality wines.
What sells well
As in many countries from the region, red wine is the most popular. Besides the major suppliers like France and Italy, wine from Portugal, Hungary and Armenia is getting its own place in the spotlight.
Also, sparkling wine is doing extremely well. Sparkling wine sales account for one-third of the market, with consumers embracing Prosecco, Crémant and Cava as well as Champagne.
Non-alcoholic wines, a category that a few years ago was close to non-existent in Lithuania, is also gaining ground, fueled by the government’s push to limit alcohol consumption. More and more brands are present on the shelves of the local retailers and sales are slowly growing.
Three Lithuanian wine importers:
Address: Laisvės Av. 88, Vilnius
Baltic Wine & Spirits
Address: Kareivių g. 19-130, Vilnius
Address: Verkiu G.36, Vilnius
Producers interested in the Lithuanian market can find a database with top Lithuanian wine importers, distributors and retailers here.