Bright Outlook Port Side

Gonçalves reports a “sales recovery” in the domestic market. “We feel more consumers prefer to buy less but in higher quality so the expenditure stays the same but the quality improves. 

“The ‘wine fashion’ is slowly seeping into port, with the Portuguese consumer following the worldwide trend to be more interested in new styles of wine. This is clearly a special product, but there is still a lot to do to change the traditional image of port into something more appealing, interesting and desired by young consumers and also turn it into a product for frequent drinking rather than being only associated with special occasions.” 

Around Porto’s bars and restaurants, cocktails have seen a big push by producers. “We invested a lot in Port & Tonic promotion – mostly with white port but also with rosé,” says Gonçalves. One of the group’s recipes sees Kopke rosé mixed with tonic, lemon, ice mint and Gonçalves says the 50/50 tonic and port ratio means it is a lower-alcohol alternative to a Gin & Tonic –  a drink that is bang on fashion in Porto and Lisbon.

At Porto Cruz’s Terrace Lounge Restaurant & Bar, Dias reports that more port is sold in cocktails than by glass – a sign, he says, that port cocktails are catching on. The brand is heavily tied into cocktail marketing, works with Portugal’s Cocktail Academy on recipes, and has introduced neck collars to advertise cocktail ideas for white and rosé port in his major markets such as France. He says that, while rosé port was only invented in 2009, Porto Cruz now makes 68% of the style’s production.

Portuguese diasporas

The most recent and ongoing ‘brain drain’ of Portugal has added to almost 4-5 million nationals living outside the country. This means there are half as many Portuguese living outside of Portugal as there are in.  

Allied to that, waves of emigration stretching back centuries to the likes of Brazil, Venezuela, France and Luxembourg make it easy to imagine there is a huge, though disparate, group of port loyalists around the world. 

The Symington Group and Sogrape say these communities are important but their group strategies are more broad than specifically tailored towards Portuguese communities. 

But Sogevinus’s Marello certainly believes in targeting Portuguese communities – almost to illustrate the point, he says the second largest city of Portugal is not Porto but Paris.

“There is a part of Newark, New Jersey, that has a lot of Portuguese,” he informs. “We have set up our own export operation there for the East Coast of the US. There are close to half a million diasporas in the US alone, and between the East Coast and wine-producing states of the West Coast and the likes of Texas – which has huge spending power – we feel the US has an enormous potential for growth in the short term.”

Major markets

Marello is not wrong, though a smaller market than Portugal or France, the US is the category’s other star performer for 2013. It is sixth in terms of volume and fifth by value, with a high average bottle price of Ä8.34. The market continues to request higher value Ports and increased a massive 27% by value and 13.5% by volume. “The US at 600,000 cases and the UK at 1 million 9-litre cases are quality-driven markets, but the US has a population of 317 million to the UK’s 70 million so there is so much more potential,” says Marello.