Polish wine and spirits importer Racke International is banking on the wine market to boost future sales. Poland has one of the world's lowest rates of wine consumption, but all that is set to change as younger Poles move away from vodka.
Currently vodka consumption accounts for 96 per cent of the spirits markets in Poland, where the alcohol is seen as a medicinal tipple. However, Racke's vice president, Marcin Morawiecki, says that he believes this figure will fall to around 60 - 70 per cent in the coming years, as wines and other spirits grow in popularity.
"Currently the market for wine in Poland is absolutely tiny," said Morawiecki. "Per capita consumption runs at around 1 litre, which pales next to western European levels, particulary the French who have a per capita consumption of 56 litres.
"But this means huge potential for market growth, a potential that is already starting to show in Pole's consumer habits, and indeed, Racke's wines sales. Younger people are shifting away from vodka because it has an unfashionable image. In doing so they are turning to wines because they have a more sophisticated and trendy image."
Currently most of Poland's wine is imported from Bulgaria and Hungary. Morawiecki says that the majority of this is cheap, sweet wine. But reflecting greater knowledge of wines, there is now a distinct shift towards drier, more sophisticated wines.
Racke itself imports wines from France and New World markets such as South Africa and Chilem - exactly what younger, more affluent Poles are starting to go for.
"Although the main stay of the business is still the import of brandy and whisky, the growth of our wine imports is phenomenal and I expect that this growth will be sustained in the coming months."
After Poland's accession to the EU, the Polish government was forced to drop prohibitively high tariffs on wines and spirits, aimed at protecting the countries own industry, led by the Polmos distilleries. In many cases prices of imported wines and spirits have dropped by half, something that has been reflected by a 32 per cent increase in Racke's sales for the July - August period.