A report from Istat, the Italian statistics bureau, shows that Italian wine production fell by 12% in 2019. Wine producers say it’s down to the ongoing effects of extended extreme weather throughout the region, something that is becoming more commonplace across the world.
This decrease in wine production is part of a wider issue facing Italian agriculture. The sector as a while fell by 1.3% in 2019, compared with production levels recorded in 2018.
Italian wine production impacted by climate change
With Italian wine production being affected particularly badly, the 12% dip reverses most of the increase (14.3%) that was recorded in 2018. The authors of the Istat report say that the sharp decrease in wine production is “mainly caused by unfavourable weather.”
Most of Europe suffered from heatwaves throughout the summer in 2019, with low rainfall also causing problems. In some regions, too much rain adversely affected not only agriculture, but people’s daily lives.
In July 2019, for example, a freak storm and flash flooding caused a mini tornado near Fiumicino airport. Around the same time, Coldiretti, the country’s major agricultural organisation reported hailstorms that had cost millions of euros worth of damage across Italy. Among the worst hit was Arezzo, where orchards, sunflowers, fields of tobacco and corn were completely destroyed.
High cost of adverse weather conditions in 2019
These events in mid-summer were far from isolated in Italy, which is one of the biggest exporters of wine in the world. The sector suffered through floods, heatwaves and vicious storms throughout 2019. Coldiretti says that the total cost of the adverse weather in Italy is around “14 billion euros.”
The only crop in Italy that picked up in 2019 is olive oil, which increased production by almost a third. This is welcome news given that it was a particularly bad year in 2018. However, turning back to wine, there are fears that jobs will be lost if the downturn continues in 2020.
Of course, the Italian wine industry is also waiting for any fallout from Brexit. The most likely affect of this is that Prosecco could become more expensive for customers in the UK, leading to a downturn in sales. This is a big deal given that the UK is the biggest market for Italian Prosecco, and drinks 35% of all exports each year. Prosecco is made in the north-eastern region of Veneto, and a number of producers in Italy are bracing for the impact Brexit will undoubtedly bring.
With the UK scheduled to leave the EU on 31 January 2020, there will effectively be no trade deals officially in place after that date. It remains to be seen how the Government will negotiate a deal with any other country, including Italy. The date for trade deal completion is scheduled to be 31 December 2020.
Other challenges facing Italian wine producers in 2020 include the chance of 100% tariffs on EU wine threatened by the US Government.