Alongside our daily news coverage, features and interviews, the Just Drinks news team sifts through the week’s most intriguing data sets to bring you a roundup of the week in numbers.

This week, we took a look at Australia’s slowing wine exports as rumours swirled around Pernod Ricard‘s plans in the region, eyed the fast-flowing demand for bottled water in Ireland as Britvic pumps funds into the country and looked ahead at India’s thirst for Scotch.

Rumours surround Pernod Ricard in Australia

Rumours swirled this week about Pernod Ricard’s plans for its Australia division as Australian Financial Review reported the company had asked two investment banks to conduct a “strategic review” of its Oceania business and wine division.

The French giant did not directly address the claims but told Just Drinks it “continuously explores options” for its assets. In Australia Pernod Ricard produces St Hugo, Jacob’s Creek and George Wyndham wine brands.

Australian wine exports have been dropping since 2019 in both volume and value, plummeting steeply since China imposed export tariffs on the country in the 2020 financial year. The tariffs have been blamed for overstocks in the country, where many producers had come to lean upon China’s thirst for big reds.

Export value is down 7.5% over the country’s five-year average and 6.1% in volume. Bottled red wine is down 11.4% in value over the five-year average, while volumes are down 16.8%.

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Italy faces bleak wine harvest

Italy is facing its worst harvest in six years following unfavourable weather conditions and disease.

A forecast published by the Assoenologi Observatory, Ismea and the Italian Wine Union says climate change is affecting the Italian wine sector and could result in volumes dropping by 30% in some regions. 

Italian wine production is forecast to drop just below 44m hectolitres, down 12% compared to 50m last year.

If accurate, it would make the 2023 harvest the lowest in volume since the country’s historic low of 39.3m hectolitres in 2017.

The bulk of Italy’s harvest is due to take place in September and October.

Fast-flowing demand for Irish water continues

Ireland’s thirst for packaged water is forecast to continue and is set to be worth €36.4bn ($38.7) by 2027, compared to €3bn in 2023. The five-year CAGR of packaged water is set to be 5.9% in 2027, however, lower than this year’s compound rate of 10.2%, analysis from GlobalData suggests.

It comes as Britvic this week announced a €6m investment in a bottled-water factory in Ireland, increasing production by over a fifth to meet “growing consumer demand”. The investment in the Ballygowan facility in Newcastle West, County Limerick, will add bottling capacity for a further 50m 500ml bottles.

Britvic said: “Consumer demand has grown steadily in recent years with sales of Ballygowan products undergoing strong double-digit volume growth compared to pre-Covid levels.”

In its half-year results in May, Britvic posted a 34.5% increase in revenue for Ballygowan year on year, led by its Hint of Fruit flavoured-water range.

Scotch market set to boom in India

India's Scotch market is set to grow in both volume and value over the next five years. Annual Scotch whisky volumes in India reached 73.4m litres in 2022 and are expected to grow to 123.3m litres by 2027, a CAGR of 10.93%.

Value wise the prospects are equally high, with the 2022 figure of $1.8bn set to rocket to $2.7bn by 2027.

It comes as domestic drinks producer Radico Khaitan this week opened a grain-based distillery in the city of Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh. The company’s portfolio includes Rampur whisky, Magic Moments vodka, Contessa rum and Old Admiral brandy.

The distillery will be used in the production of Radico Khaitan’s brands as well as ENA (extra neutral alcohol) to be sold to “local manufacturers” and contract bottlers.

The distiller has built a warehouse space for malt maturation with a capacity of 10,000 barrels, suggesting its Rampur whisky brand could be a focus for the site.

Could Nordics boost South Africa’s wine exports?

While the value of wine exported from South Africa in 2022 increased 4% to €660m compared to 2021, the volume of exports decreased 8.7% to 4.4m hectolitres. The country's winemakers have faced strong headwinds in recent years - including lengthy shipping delays disrupting its export market. Export volumes have been declining since 2018 and are now at their lowest level since 2016, with the exception of 2020.

This week South African canned-wine producer Lubanzi Wines told Just Drinks it was focusing on export opportunities, particularly in Europe and the Nordics. The company is in conversations with Danish partners and just shipped its first order to Norway.

Nordic alcohol-retailer monopolies are known for strong stances on sustainable packaging, so the canned-wine SME could find a foothold there. Co-founder Walker Brown said: “I think there’s major appetite for what we have to offer in those Nordic countries.”

State-owned Swedish retailer Systembolaget, Norway’s alcoholic beverage retailer Vinmonopolet and Finnish alcohol monopoly Alko all extoll the virtues of lightweight packaging like cans and PET. Vinmonopolet specifies all wine under NKr150 ($13.88) must be packaged in lightweight containers.