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US wine exports: Who is buying the most?

A trade dispute damaged US wine exports to China in 2018, while one African country came from a long way back to become a top-10 destination, show new figures.

Total US wine exports in 2018 fell by 4.8% to $1.47bn, said the California-based Wine Institute.

That’s the lowest total since 2013 but still well above the $963m in exports reported a decade ago, in 2008, show the Institute’s figures.

In volume terms, the decline in 2018 was less steep. Shipments fell by 1.2% versus 2017, to the equivalent of 41.7m cases.

China weakens

Industry leaders blamed a trade dispute between the US and China for reversing some of the gains made in the Chinese market in recent years.

US wine exports to China sank by nearly 25% in value in 2018, to $59.3m, with volumes down 13%.

China remains the fifth biggest market by value for US wine around the world and the Institute said it was still upbeat about the long-term prospects there.

Exports to Hong Kong, which are counted separately, rose by 10% in 2018 to $129.8m. ‘Clearly some of these wines are being re-exported to other countries, including Mainland China,’ said the Institute.

Big gains

Vietnam and Nigeria stood out as the rising stars of 2018, with exports to those countries up by 51% and 247% respectively in value terms, as the table below shows.

Volume growth in the UK

Exports to the UK fell by around 1.4% in value but rose by 15% in volume versus 2017, said the Institute.

‘This is an impressive result considering that the British pound (GBP) closed the year at $1.26 against the U.S. dollar versus its pre-Brexit buying power of $1.55 or higher,’ said Damien Jackman, the Wine Institute’s trade director for the UK and Ireland.

‘These currency headwinds impacted the value/volume mix of many importers. At the same time, volume growth has resulted from growing trade interest and sales of Californian wines under £20.’

Here are the top 12 export destinations for US wine in 2018, by value


Value (millions)

Change vs 2017

European Union






Hong Kong












South Korea






Dominican Rep.












See also: EU wine threatened by US tariffs


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