By Chris Losh

Chile has recorded a record year of exports in 2004, with global volumes up by 18% to 474m litres. Value growth, at 24%, was even more impressive and is a rebuff to cynics who claim that the country has simply discounted its way to success.

The UK consolidated its position as number one market with volume growth of 26% and value growth of 25%.  If the Chilean rate of growth continues, it could pass Spain to take the number six spot in the UK off-trade inside the next few months.

Growth in the US, the number two market, was slower by volume, but a 15% rise in value keeps it as one of the most lucrative markets, with a per-litre bottle price ($2.51) second only to Ireland's ($3.02).

All of the top ten markets except Sweden registered double-digit growth.

Though the 20% growth in bottled wine shipments to the UK, from 5.8m to 7.0m cases, is heartening, there was also a large rise in bulk wine sales from 14m litres to 20.7m litres, up 48%.

But Michael Cox, director of Wines of Chile UK, said this was largely down to the strategy of the country's largest retailer, Tesco, which is now shipping its own-label in bulk and bottling it in Europe, and not evidence of increased 'dumping' of glut wine.