According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the import of alcoholic drinks in Georgia dropped in 2014 in comparison with the prior-year period. A total of 3,587,800 litres of alcoholic drinks, worth USD 47,052,400, was imported in Georgia during the first eleven months of 2014. The figure was 5,467,100 litres, worth 34,000,900, in the same period of 2013.
With 2,025,200 litres, worth USD 15,088,600, vodka is the top imported alcohol beverage in Georgia. It is followed by whisky - the import of which amounted to 499,100 litres, worth USD 17,984,500.
One of the leading vodka producers in Georgia, company Gomi, saw 15% sales enlargement in 2014 in comparison with 2013. The company produced 1,760,000 litres last year.
JSC Sarajishvili [a brandy producer - HN] has continued its stable development and 2014 was no exception. “We ended the year fairly successfully. Like in previous years we had an increase in sales which were on average 15% higher than in 2013,” said Alexander Sakandelidze, head of sales at JSC Sarajishvili.
One of the leading Georgian winemakers Teliani Valley also saw sales growth in 2014. Their exact figures will be disclosed in February.
Bagrationi 1882, leading producer of sparkling wine in Georgia, was the exception out of the interviewed companies, as it did not see sales growth in 2014. However, the company did not experience any decrease either, so maintained a stable volume.
According to Euromonitor International’s December 2014 report, Georgian alcoholic drinks was one of the most promising markets in Eastern Europe over the review period due to its low base of industrial alcohol consumption. Alongside the penetration of western culture into traditional wine and brandy in the country, Georgian consumers showed increasing interest in a variety of spirits and beer.
According to the report, traditional Georgian supras (sit-down feasts with traditional meals and toasting with wine) are becoming less popular. Locals are switching to a more hectic way of living and therefore searching for fast food and ‘fast’ drinks. So, gradually more and more consumers are replacing traditional wine with beer and spirits. In these categories, consumers are increasingly opting for international rather than local brands.
Meanwhile local producers have disagreed with the conclusion of the report, stating that wine is still the top alcoholic drink in Georgia.
“I am not aware of which arguments Euromonitor based its research on. Meanwhile, my personal viewpoint is that the declining tradition of the Georgian supra might be a trend among the younger generations. Fast food is not constant, contrary to the Georgian traditional supra, which has a long history. Besides Georgians, the Georgian supra is gaining huge popularity among foreigners as well. So, on the whole I would not agree with this report,” said Zaza Tabagari, consultant at the strategic planning direction of Gomi.
“Bagrationi 1882 is mainly a producer of sparkling wine. Its sales are mostly in line with the seasons. As in 2013 and 2014 we did not see any changes of sales, we can conclude that the consumption of sparkling wine remains stable,” said Irakli Tsereteli, Director of Marketing and Sales at Bargrationi 1882.
Tea Kikvadze, Chief Commercial Officer at Teliani Valley, did not estimate the trend regarding the tradition of the Georgian Supra. However, she affirmed that the consumption of Georgian bottled wine has been growing steadily year on year. “Consumption of wine is increasing not only in Georgia, but also around the world. Wine consumption is gaining new functionality and new rules of its usage are becoming popular. So we do not see any threat.”
The list of the top-selling products at Teliani Valley is as follows: Tsinandali, Saperavi, Alazani Valleys and Kindzmarauli. In total the aforementioned products make up 65% of sales.
“Teliani Valley will produce new sorts of wine as well as new brands in 2015. The first new wine will be presented for the East,” said Kikvadze.
In her words, the company plans to expand its export share on existing European and Asian markets. Entering various new markets is also part of the agenda.
JSC Sarajishvili completed a rebranding process in the last quarter of 2014. As a result the company presented completely new packaging for its products. “It was a very successful project. We have a number of projects and plans for 2015. We do not exclude the possibility of introducing a new product to the market. At this point I will not disclose the details and will instead leave it as a surprise,” said Sakandelidze.
The realization of alcohol products at Sarajishvili was over 2,000,000 litres in 2014. It includes a share of local as well as export markets. “All our products have their own consumer bases. It is difficult to distinguish specific best-selling products therefore. Meanwhile, Sarajishvili cognac remains the leader on the local market,” Sakandelidze said.
“Sarajishvili has product realization on over 20 international markets. However, we are not satisfied with these results. Entering Benelux and Canadian markets has been our latest success. We expect to increase our realization markets to 30 by the end of 2015,” he added.
In 2015 Bagrationi 1882 plans to start production of red and white wines. The company is planning to enter Kazakh and Central American markets. Expanding the export share on the existing export markets is also included in the agenda of the company.
In 2014 Bagrationi 1882 sold 1,700,000 bottles. The best-selling product is sparkling wine Bagrationi Classic Semi-Dry. It makes up 27% out of total annual sales.
In 2015 Gomi plans to start production of a new assortment targeting the average price segment. In 2014 Gomi passed ISO certification. “We will soon receive our certificate. Accepting an internationally recognized standard is very important to us. We plan to enter EU markets so it will help us to fulfil our plans,” said Tabagari.
With 31%, Gomi Original is the bestselling product of the company. It is followed by Gomi Prestige, with 24%.
“Gomi products are exported to various markets. However, their share is still too small, around 2-3%. Lack of awareness of the country is hampering our development on export markets. Besides this, Georgian vodka is not as popular as Georgian wine. Accordingly occupying foreign markets is no easy task for us,” Tabagari said.