Port exports hit a five-year low in 2008, with the global economy being blamed for the fall.
According to the Port Wine Institute (IVDP), exports last year dropped more than 5% to 9.9m cases. The figures also showed a 7.1% fall in value to €375m (£335).
Tough economic times were blamed for the downturn as retailers reduced stock levels.
‘In 2008 we saw major supermarkets left with stock from 2007 and ordering less while in good times they are happy to run with the extra stock,’ said Adrian Bridge, managing director of the Fladgate Partnership, which owns the Croft, Taylor’s and Fonseca Port houses.
Bridge also claimed that disruption caused by a VAT cut in the UK – from 17.5% to 15% – had seen Port sales ‘fall off a cliff’.
Most Port producers claim they need to attract young people to the category to halt its continued decline.
‘We need to reinvent ourselves,’ said Francisco de Sousa Ferreira, a director of Sogrape.
New products including Croft Pink and Niepoort’s Junior range aim to bring new consumers to the category.
The drop in Port exports is part of a wider long-term decline in the fortified category.
Written by Rebecca Gibb