This is what Anders Barrén explained, who is currently the representative for purchasing of Spanish wine at Systembolaget, the government owned chain of retail liquor stores in Sweden, company that for the third time at FENAVIN is in search of the country"s best wines
"The Swedish consumer still has to discover many wines in Spain, and not only Rioja and Tempranillo wines: there are good quality wines in all price ranges". The person saying this is Anders Barrén, representative for purchasing of Spanish wines at Systembolaget, the government owned chain of retail liquor stores in Sweden, company that has already visited FENAVIN on three previous occasions.
As he explains in an interview with the organization, he believes that the key for Spanish producers resides in their penetrating the Swedish market with force, "so that they will be able to start considering Spain as a country of wine, so that they will know that Spain has many different styles of wine, many varietals of grape and that in Spain there are not only red wines, but also very good white wines".
Hence at FENAVIN Barrén will be looking "for all types of wines: red wines, white wines, sparkling wines, fortified wines, etc. I want to see everything that Spain has to offer, from entry-level and up. I want to see classic and new wines as well, from upcoming areas and I will also keep an eye open for organic wines".
Along this line, at Systembolaget what they appreciate about the Spanish producers, "is that they have a good line of argument when presenting their products, that is to say, joint analysis along with the importer of the varieties they offer and presentation of wines that can be complementary or that can fill the gaps in the shelves, as that would be the best way to help us develop a category".
There is the circumstance that the establishments of this government owned company are the only retail stores that can sell alcoholic beverages that contain an alcohol content surpassing 3.5% in Spain. Also, as distributors, it is one of the most important in the world, with close to 500 sales points throughout all of Sweden.
"The Swedish market –Barrén explains- is a mature market when it comes to wine. The wine sales at Systembolaget last year stood at 197.8 million liters (42% of our total sales volume), more or less the same figure as the year before".
A particularity of the Swedish market that is to be highlighted refers to packaging, as the fact of the matter is that approximately 55-60% of the volume of wine that is sold comes in 3-litre Bag-In-Box format, and the screwcap is more the rule than the exception when it comes to bottled wine.
In as far as consumption of wine is concerned, red wine consumption is stable, while white wines and rosé and sparkling wines in particular are growing. In the last few years the wine that has been basically consumed in Sweden is Italian, almost 30% of the volume, with a particular taste for Veneto style wines, the "apassimento" type wines, which have been very popular, although this trend has slowed down", Barrén comments.
However, as he explains, it is precisely "at this time that we are seeing that the consumer is willing to spend somewhat more on a bottle of wine, in fact, the Rioja Reservas and Gran Reservas, for example, are undergoing a more positive development than Crianzas, something that is also happening with organic wines, which last year already represented 10.8% of the volume of wine that was consumed".
Spanish wines came in fourth in consumption on the part of the Swedes.
In as far as trends go, consumption of Spanish wine in Spain last year reached 18.7 million liters (9.6% of the total volume of wine), which makes Spain the fourth country among the favorites, following Italy, South Africa and France.
However, Barrén also mentions that sales of Spanish wines have been dropping since the end of the nineties, when Spain was the most important country in wine sales on the Swedish market, with a market share of 30%.
"Part of this decline might have to do with the Swedes" pragmatic attitude towards packaging. For example, if you can not sell your wine in the Bag-in-Box format, you"re automatically shut out of 55% of the market", he explains.
Also, "Rioja wine has an important presence. From among the bottled Spanish wines, one of every three references corresponds to Rioja. Another category that is on the rise is Cava. Last year sales of Cava increased in 24%.
In short, in his opinion, "the quality/price ratio is very important for the Swedish consumer. Loyalty for a country, region, brand, etc. is not strong enough to compensate for declining quality and/or disproportionate price increases".