With good reason, Romania, with a population of almost 20 million people and a tradition of wine consumption which goes back thousands of years, can be considered an extremely interesting market for international wine producers. The potential is real, but the unique characteristics of the Eastern European country can also prove challenging for companies who are not able to adapt to the local demands.
Romanian Wine Consumers
The habits of the Romanian wine consumers are still heavily divided between the urban and the rural environments, and, as foreigners tend to discover, there are almost two distinct Romanias coexisting, which only sometimes overlap. The “urban” Romania continues to refine its tastes for wine – the sweet wines preferred in the communist era and soon after its end are almost a thing of the past and the white wines are now among the most popular.
Also, according to a recent study, the domestic production of sparkling wine has tripled in the last years, as demand has increased significantly. In contrast, the rural area and some consumers who have relatives in nearby villages tend to consume large quantities of home made wine. A study by Ipsos Research for Magazinul Progresiv points out to this particularity – almost 51% of the wine consumed in the country is home made, while 33% is packaged.
The study highlights a few other interesting characteristics of the Romanian consumers: around 70% of them buy wine produced in Romania, while 30% opt for French, Italian or Spanish Wine; the bottle preferred by 93% of the interviewed people was a 0,75l bottle and the optimal price for wine bought from the supermarket was around 4.3 Euro.
The future is promising and analysts estimate that as the consumers will become more educated and the purchasing power will increase, Romania’s demand for quality wine will steadily increase and the consumption of home made wine will remain high only in isolated areas.
Wine Exports and Production
Even though Romania is among the top 15 wine producers in the world, most of the production is consumed domestically. A somewhat negative country image and the fact that the most important producers have a lock on the domestic market and prefer to ignore exports results in low export numbers. The wine producer landscape is also in constant change. Some of the oldest and largest companies on the market are facing difficulties and new companies, with excellent marketing and brave export strategies are starting to make a name for themselves.
Production has also fluctuated in the last years and in 2015 the quantity is expected to drop again by around 30% compared to 2014. Still, thanks to the warm, dry summer, the producers expect that the quality of the wines will be excellent, especially for the reds.
The wine imports in Romania have also fluctuated dramatically in the last couple of years. Numbers indicate a drop of almost 30% in terms of quantity, mainly due to large drops of imports from countries like South Africa and Chile (-96 percent) but also from other important producers from the EU.