State of Play

Vinexpo’s new president Christophe Navarre gives his view of the industry – and his outlook for the future

As the recently appointed President of Vinexpo’s Supervisory Board, Christophe Navarre is very aware of the challenges the international wine trade would see tackled and addressed at this year’s show. We asked him what he sees as being the main trends in global wine markets today – both in terms of local consumption and export.

Although European markets are continuing to decline, due to changes in consumption habits, the market is generally higher than it was 20 years ago. Growth has been driven by the Americas and Asia-Pacific, where the emergence of the middle class and the interest of Chinese consumers in wine keeps on growing. However, the overall consumption has been relatively flat since 2013, with the exception of a few categories, such as sparkling and rosé wines.

QUALITY, AUTHENTICITY AND INNOVATION WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IN THE YEARS TO COME.

With Spain as Vinexpo’s guest country, what are your thoughts on Spanish wines?

As Vinexpo is an international event and Bordeaux is seen as a worldwide capital for wines, hosting a guest country makes a lot of sense. Spain will have the opportunity to highlight the diversity of its production and the great improvements it has achieved over the last few years. No other country has shown such a dramatic evolution in viticulture, winemaking techniques and marketing in recent years. Vinexpo will continue to put countries or regions under the spotlight, as this is its role within the industry. This could also include a French region, as there are plenty of great wines still to be discovered in our country.

What do you see as new and interesting product categories this year in the global market?

Vinexpo has the expertise and the strength to show a wide range of wines and spirits with its 2,300 plus exhibitors: We have seen Champagne, Prosecco, rosé, tequila, American whiskey or Japanese saké all stake further claims for market share in recent years. This year’s show will highlight organic wines in a dedicated section, WOW! encapsulating the ‘World of Organic Wines’. More than 100 producers will be joining Vinexpo for this new initiative. I would also recommend keeping an eye on China’s emerging NingXia region – with 20 producers at the show – and on the Beaujolais region which makes an interesting return to Vinexpo with an exciting new concept.

What are the greatest challenges for producers looking to retain or gain market share in key countries?

Quality, authenticity and innovation will make the difference in the years to come. Younger consumers  are eager to know more about the wines and spirits they consume, where they come from and how they are produced. They seek greater access to information and a secured distribution network. This is why digitalisation presents challenges and opportunities for our industry. Another concern is global warming. This will be one of our key topics at the show with today’s debate hosted by Wine Spectator called “Fire and Rain: Climate Change and the Wine Industry”.

Where are the best opportunities in terms of export?

China is expected to see the most growth in the near future. The category was impacted by the government’s decision to curb excessive corporate spending on gifts and entertainment in 2012. However, since then the focus has shifted to the growing mid-range segment and this is where the market is expected to continue to see the most volume gains. Apart from China, the most attractive export markets over the medium term are likely to be the US, Canada and Japan.

In your position with Vinexpo, what is your vision for how the event can grow and develop in the future?

I was elected Vinexpo’s Chairman of the Supervisory Board two months ago. This will be my first Vinexpo in this role and I very much look forward to welcoming exhibitors and buyers to the show. The Vinexpo team has worked very hard to produce an attractive program and new business services to make the experience more efficient. We are on the right track but there is work to do. Vinexpo is a great brand and I am glad I can participate in its development.


Photo: Christophe Navarre, President of Vinexpo’s Supervisory Board