Prosecco producers seeking to build new quality image

Prosecco producers seeking to build new quality image

Prosecco's ruling council is seeking trademark protection for its sparkling wines in Brazil as it competes with domestic producers for share of the country's promising wine sector.

Brazil is a priority country for the Prosecco Council following its success in gaining protected name status for Prosecco across the European Union (EU), which came into force in April this year. Italy's Prosecco producers have already gained protection in Australia following the signing of a bilateral wine agreement between the country and the EU.

"Our mission is to ensure that ultimately no one outside of the region of Prosecco in northern Italy can bottle a wine and call it Prosecco, and that Prosecco then becomes known exclusively for what it is, an Italian sparkling wine," said Giancarlo Vettorello, director of the the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Consorzio.

Brazil is the most important market for Prosecco by volume in South America, a Council spokesperson told just-drinks today (5 October). Although the continent only represents 3% of global Prosecco exports, the trade body believes that Brazilian consumers' growing thirst for sparkling wine in a strong macroeconomic setting means that the country has good potential.

However, domestic sparkling wine producers have taken share off Prosecco in Brazil over the last year and the council is keen to distinguish its wines in the market.

Volume sales of domestically-produced sparkling wines rose by 2% to 2.1m nine-litre cases in Brazil in 2009, according to a report on the global sparkling wine market published jointly by just-drinks and IWSR this week. "The switch from imported Prosecco to local asti impacted the overall import volumes, which fell strongly to 120,000 cases," said the report.

Trademark protection could help Prosecco producers to raise the quality and value image of their wines in Brazil. The report said that premium sparkling wines, priced upwards of US$11 per bottle, outperformed the general market in 2009.

It added: "That Brazil sells just 2m [cases] in a country of 170m people with rising disposable income indicates that there is considerable headroom for growth," Brazil's gross domestic product rose by 6% in 2009. 

The chances of Prosecco gaining trademark protection in Brazil may rest on the outcome of long-running trade talks between the EU and Mercosur, the common market established by Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in 1991. Fresh negotiations in May this year failed to agree the final terms of a deal.

Exports of Italian sparkling wine exceeded domestic consumption for the first time in 2009, according to the Italian farmers' union, Coldiretti. Around 340m bottles of sparkling wine were produced in Italy last year, compared to 339m in 2008, with around 160m bottles covered by the new Prosecco DOC and DOCG denominations.

"Very few producers suffered in 2009 because of the recession,” said Aldo Franchi, director general of producers' association Cantina Produttori di Valdobbiadene, based in the heart of the Prosecco DOCG denomination. "Most were able to maintain their volumes, although profits were trimmed," he said.