‘Port sales are not in decline’ says Fells MD

Port sales are not in decline, says Steve Moody, MD at Fells – the UK importer for Symington Family Estates – in response to WSTA figures published last month recording a drop in Port sales over the past 10 years in the UK.


Steve Moody is MD at Fells, which is the UK importer for Symington Family Estates, owner of Port brands Graham’s and Cockburn’s

Following a story on thedrinksbusiness.com which stated that fortified wine sales in the UK have more than halved in the past 10 years, Moody put up a strong defence of the Port market, noting that it was a “dynamic and value-generating sector” that was “not in decline”.

While the WSTA said on 20 December that Port had seen sales drop from 8 million litres in 2005 to 5 million litres in 2015, Moody said that the UK Port market had “in reality been remarkably robust over the last 15 years and grew from 998,553 nine-litre cases in 2000 to 1,012,239 cases in 2015”, according to the official Port Wine Institute figures.

He also said that premium Port, in particular, was “a dynamic and value-generating sector” that had “grown over the last decade from 57% to an excellent 64% of total imports.”

“There have obviously been fluctuations in the intervening years,” he said, but added that “these are largely due to the levels of stock in trade and the amount of focus given to the category by different retailers each year.”

He also noted that Port had been “the star performer of the fortified category and had now overtaken Sherry to account for the largest share of the category by value.”

When asked why the Port category had been so successful Moody said that it was because Port had remained “relevant to consumers” through ”clever innovation and by investing in our brands”, while stressing that the fortified wine was still “very much at the heart of a family Christmas”.


Fells has introduced a special Port presentation set for the on-trade

By way of example, he said that Cockburn’s had been supported in the UK “by a significant above the line campaign, highlighting the brands relevance to family gatherings, particularly at Christmas.”

He also said that Graham’s had “been at the forefront of innovation, pioneering the development of the Tawny category with non-traditional clear glass bottles that would comfortably sit alongside any premium spirit.”

In particular, he recorded the strong presence of aged tawny Port in the UK restaurant sector. “Sales of Tawnies are showing 30% growth,” he said, citing Nielsen figures for the 12-month period to 3.12.16.

Meanwhile, writing in the October edition of the drinks business, Gabriel Stone said that Port producers have been highly inventive when it comes to developing new occasions for the fortified wine in the on-trade, citing cocktails, food pairings and different format bottles.

Although she applauded the modernising effort, she also said that that younger generation relish the unique and quirky traditions that go with Port.

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