Wine (wino in Polish) production in Poland has increased more than twenty-fivefold in the last decade. Several years ago, Polish wine production was concentrated in the southern part of the country; nowadays, it is produced across the country. Poland has approximately 500 vineyards and 197 commercial wine producers making wine from local grapes. According to FAO, in 2020, Poland was the 51st largest wine producer worldwide with a total production of 11.4 thousand tons equivalent to a global production share of 0.04%.
According to the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), in 2018, Poland was the 27th largest wine consumer, consuming around 120 million liters equivalent to a global consumption share pf 0.5%. Wine consumption grew by 20% since 2014, ten times greater than the global average. In terms of per capita consumption, in 2019, Polish people consumed an average of 0.74 liters of pure alcohol from wine, ranking as the 65th country.
In 2020, Poland ranked as the 31st largest wine exporter with a global share of 0.11%. Its wine exports grew at a much faster CAGR of 26% compared to the world average of 5% between 2001 and 2020.
2. Import Trends
Most of Poland’s wine is imported from Europe, North and South America, and Oceania, but the country also imports a small amount from African and Asian countries. Poland is a small wine importer compared to large western European countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany. However, Poland is the largest wine importer in eastern Europe (ranking as the 20th largest wine importer worldwide), with wine imports amounting to 363 million USD in 2020. By 2020, Polish wine imports grew to 7.64 times the value of 2001. In general, Polish wine imports followed a consistent upward trend with a higher-than-average increase between 2006 and 2008, in 2013 and in 2018. Slight decreases were observed in 2009, 2015 and 2019.
The value of Polish imports from Lebanon oscillated from one year to the other with a maximum value of $85,000 recorded in 2014. In 2020, wine imports from Lebanon stood at $52,000, equivalent to a share of 0.01% of total Polish wine imports, with Lebanon ranking as the 36th largest wine exporter into Poland. That same year, those Polish imports constituted 0.2% of Lebanon’s wine exports. In terms of quantity, Lebanon ranked as the 42nd largest wine supplier to Poland with only 6 tons of wine exported to Poland.
3. Market Trends
In 2020, around 70% of Poland’s wine was imported from the European Union, with the biggest share from Italy (26%), followed by Germany (11%), France (11%), Spain (9%), Portugal (8%), Bulgaria (3%) and Hungary (2%). Another 2% was imported from 14 other EU countries. The United States of America was the largest non-EU wine exporter to Poland with a share of 11%, followed by Chile (5%), Georgia (3%), Moldova (3%), Australia (3%), United Kingdom (1.5%) and New Zealand (1.5%). Other supplying countries accounted for 2.7% of total Polish wine imports.
The world average imported unit value in 2020 was $2.62/liter. The average unit value of imports from Italy, France, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina exceeded the world average. The unit value of imports from Spain, Moldova, Hungary and United Kingdom were lower than the world average. While the unit value of wine imports from Bulgaria and Macedonia was less than half the world average, those from Denmark and Austria were almost double.
Meanwhile, the unit price of Polish wine imports from Lebanon was the highest at $8.67/liter. The high unit price could be a result of the high quality of wine imported from Lebanon. It could also indicate the lack of price competitiveness compared to other countries which could be hindering higher quantities of wine from being imported into Poland. Thus, a thorough study of competitive markets in terms of quality and price combined with the proper strategies of market entry could realize the growth potential of Lebanese wine exports into Poland.
4. Changes in the Polish Market
For a long time, Poland was one of the least developed wine markets in Europe. Compared to the rest of Europe, wine consumption in Poland is still small. However, as wine gains popularity in Poland, the country is being perceived as a ‘growth market’. Poland is currently the 5th most attractive wine market in the world according to Wine Intelligence’s Global Compass 2020 report, up nine places from 2019. This jump in ranking can be attributed to an increasing wine drinking population and a flux of disposable income.
Although the Poles are traditionally known for their love of beer and spirits, wine sales have strongly increased since the country joined the EU in 2004 and are expected to continue to do so in the future as the country continues to experience economic growth. This could be attributed to the growing access to the product and, correspondingly, the wine drinking habit, courtesy of Poland’s wine-loving EU neighbors. Wine consumers in Poland are typically younger and more eager to discover more about wine than in other places. While the older generation of drinkers are keen to stick with what they know, maintaining that tradition of hard spirits and vodka, the younger generation are keen to break the stereotype and adopt a Western European way of alcohol consumption.
Poles generally prefer red wines followed by sweeter whites, although consumer preferences are slowly trending away from sweet wines toward drier white varietals. Sparkling wines are growing in popularity, followed by still rosés, and champagne. Sweet and semi-dry wines are particularly popular amongst a large group of elderly women.
However, the growing group of young urban professionals deem to prefer semi-dry and dry wines and to favor red wine over white or rosé wine. These young urban professionals are currently driving the development of the emerging Polish wine market. They travel a lot to other wine-consuming countries, copy drinking patterns of those countries and associate wine with Western lifestyles. Growing health-consciousness particularly stimulates the switch to wine, as moderate wine consumption is considered to be healthy.
Polish regular wine drinkers have shown an increased interest and knowledge of wine categories, with an active interest in learning about the origin and in experimenting with a wider range of products.
In the past few years, knowledge about wine-producing countries and regions of origin has grown, gaining a more important role in the purchasing decisions. According to Wine Intelligence, more are now able to recall the country of origin of the wines they have consumed, compared to 3 years ago, and more are experimenting with a wider range of white and red varietals.
Although wine consumption is less seasonal than it was in the past, some seasonal trends persist. For example, sparkling wines, including champagne, are particularly popular during Christmas, New Years, Carnival in February, and during first communion season in May.
The Polish wine market is dominated by low-cost table wines, but higher quality wines have made inroads among many consumers. Increasingly serious marketing efforts, on-line wine sellers, and a proliferation of wine shops, particularly in leading shopping centers, have all contributed toward popularizing higher-end wines
Despite the dominance of large retail chains and discounters over the Polish wine market, small importers and specialist retailers are on the rise. This provides opportunities for developing country exporters in both the high and low-volume segments as consumers are less prejudiced towards wine from different origins.
Figure 1: Wine Consumption (1996 - 2018)
Figure 2: Value of Wine Imports into Poland, 2001 – 2020