The Netherlands – only 200 km wide and 3,000 km long – is a small country, but it always tries to play a significant role, whether it be economically, politically, or in sports. In wine, Holland is the fifth import market in the world, which is also surprising considering the size of the country.
Geographically, the Netherlands can be divided into ‘de Randstad’, which is one big urban area comprising the main cities Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and Utrecht, and the rest of the country, which is patronisingly referred to as ‘the provinces’. De Randstad is responsible for the vast majority of wine sales and for all new trends and developments, both off- and on-trade.
The total market is approximately 400m bottles annually. In terms of sales channels, the supermarket still dominates: 75% of wine for all consumption moments is purchased in the supermarket. The average price in the supermarket is very low at under €3.00 ($3.21) per bottle; however, this average price includes the most basic and cheap aromatic and fruit wines. Without them, the average price would be significantly higher. Wines attract a 21% VAT and, for still wines, a duty of €0.72.
As for the on-trade, Holland is currently one of Europe’s hottest culinary destinations, and blessed with a vibrant offering of one-, two-, and three-starred Michelin restaurants. De Librije in Zwolle and De Leest in Vaassen are leading with three Michelin stars, closely followed by no less than 19 two-starred restaurants. Despite this luxury situation in the premium on-trade category, the total on-trade is relatively small compared to Belgium or Germany, representing just 15% of the total Dutch wine market.
Although in northern European countries red wine usually is dominant, recent research from SAMR Marktvinders, led by researcher Goos Eilander, showed that the Dutch drink significantly more white wine than a decade ago. This trend has been bolstered by significant volumes of Prosecco consumed in the Netherlands. Eilander’s research also showed women drink white wine and rosé more often than men, although the number of glasses consumed per occasion remains low (1.7 glasses per consumption moment). White and red now have an equal market share in the Netherlands. Sparkling wines are expected to benefit from the recent abolition of the so-called ‘bubble tax’, which was a special tax on sparkling wines depending on the pressure in the bottle. Instead of the bubble tax, sparkling wines are now, as of January 1, 2017, taxed at the same rate as still wines.
The Dutch still drink more wines from France than from any other country, and although France is losing ground each year, their loss of market share has slowed in recent years. “South African wine now is the solid number two in the Dutch market,” says Eilander. “Relatively speaking, Australia and South American wines have improved their market share in Holland compared to the past.”
Cees van Casteren MW
This is an extract from a longer, more comprehensive feature that was first published in Issue 2, 2017 of Meininger's Wine Business International. You can buy a subscription here, or sign up for the free newsletter here.