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UK the beating heart of the global wine trade

The UK’s wine trade has more than doubled in the last decade and become a key hub for importing and distributing to 124 countries across the globe. The UK is the world’s second largest importer of wine by volume behind Germany and the second largest, by value, to the US, according to an OIV report on state of the viniculture world market, April 2016. Meaning Britain imports more wine per head than any other of the world’s top importers.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s inaugural Wine Report reveals the complexity and scale of the UK’s place in the international wine industry. The latest analysis, to be revealed by WSTA CEO Miles Beale at the London Wine Fair tomorrow (Tuesday, May 3) shows:

  • The UK trades on six continents with 124 different countries.
  • Overall we trade 32% more wine with the EU than we do with the rest of the world.
  • UK wine exports to the EU and beyond have increased 156% since 2006*
  • UK wine imports from the EU and wider have increased 23% since 2006*
  • Within the EU France receives the lion’s share of wine exported by the UK making it Britain’s biggest wine trading partner.
  • We export nine times more in volume of wine to the EU than to non-EU countries.
  • And 55% of all wine coming into the UK is from within the EU.

Building on the historic UK trade in fine and rare wines Britain has seen a meteoric rise in its capacity to import and export wine. This is in part down to huge investment in bottling plants and results directly from the UK’s reputation as the preferred point of entry into the EU’s Single Market.

UK consumers have one of the widest choices of wine in the world as a result of these extensive trading capabilities and relationships.

Miles Beale CEO of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association says: “Britain has become a global giant in the wine industry – something which is evident from the complex importing and exporting networks highlighted in the WSTA’s first ever annual Wine Report.

“The UK is the 6th largest, and probably the most diverse, wine market in the world. We employ 170,000 people directly and a further 100,000 people in the supply chain including agricultural, technical and seasonal jobs.

“Britain now has a huge capacity to import and package wine on home soil – making us a key hub for distribution domestically, but also to the EU and globally. The UK is the international wine industry’s destination of choice for onward distribution to the EU and other Northern hemisphere markets.”

Wine is the UK’s most popular drink, with the equivalent of 30 million people drinking wine – more than one person per household.

The 2016 WSTA Wine Report, published on the eve of the London Wine Fair, reveals the UK’s top 10 wine trading destinations, showing continued good relationships with France and the US. And also includes emerging wine markets such as Moldova, Macao, UAE and Brazil.

With 98% of all wine in the UK imported the industry has invested heavily in its capacity to   ship in containers of wine which is now bottled on British soil.

New bottling plants operating in the UK are packaging an estimated 600m bottles a year, creating thousands of jobs and dramatically cutting carbon emissions.

The UK wine industry generates around £17.3bn in economic activity including sales worth £6.6bn for shops and supermarkets and £4bn for pubs, bars and restaurants.

*HMRC,, 2016.

2 May 2016 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor