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Portugal: platform to Angola, Mozambique and Brazil

The pandemic has particularly affected the tourism, trade and restaurant sectors. Portugal is considered the best tourist destination in the world in 2020. The most common approach to penetrate the Portuguese market is to contact alcoholic beverage importers and/or wine merchants.


The Portuguese economy grew by more than the EU average for much of the 1990s, but the rate of growth slowed in 2001-08. After the global financial crisis in 2008, Portugal’s economy contracted in 2009 and fell into recession from 2011 to 2013, as the government implemented spending cuts and tax increases. Portugal successfully exited its EU-IMF program in May 2014, and its economic recovery gained traction in 2015 because of strong exports and a rebound in private consumption.

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In terms of population and demographic trends, Portugal has an ageing population but stable incomes: low birth rates and mounting life expectancy mean that ageing will accelerate. Only older age groups are set to expand, affecting the future consumer landscape as spending patterns adapt to changing lifestyles. Thus, population is expected to age rapidly, and this trend is forecast to continue in the next decade.

250 million Portuguese speakers worldwide

Following its heyday as a global maritime power during the 15th and 16th centuries, Portugal lost much of its wealth and status with the independence of Brazil, its wealthiest colony, in 1822. A 1910 revolution deposed the monarchy, and for most of the next six decades, repressive governments ran the country. In 1974, a left-wing military coup installed broad democratic reforms. The following year, Portugal granted independence to all of its African colonies.

Portugal economy indicators

Portugal has become a diversified and increasingly service-based economy since joining the European Community – the EU’s predecessor – in 1986.

80% of alcoholic beverage purchases are in hyper and supermarkets

The Portuguese retail market is highly diversified. The market is mainly dominated by two national groups, Sonae and Jerónimo Martins, the leaders of the national retail sector accounting for approximately 50% of the retail market.

Supermarkets in Portugal lost some momentum in 2020 as the category recorded a lower retail growth rate than in previous years. This was driven primarily by a shift in purchasing habits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RankRetailersMarket share
1Sonae MC26.8%
2Jerónimo Martins22.9%
6DIA – Minipreço3.9%

The competitive environment is quite concentrated in the grocery store-based retailing, with Sonae MC (Continente) accounting for the largest share, followed closely by Pingo Doce. The concentration has considerably increased in the last decade. Currently, the six major distributors account for almost 80% of total share. Despite the ferocious competition, new foreign groups such as Aldi and Mercadona, are expecting to reinforce their presence in the market by 2021.

Portugal alcoholic beverages share

In July 2019, Mercadona, a major Spanish food retail group, entered the national market. Mercadona is the fifth Spanish food distributor to enter the Portuguese market after DIA, Coviran, Frois, and El Corte Ingles. In the next seven to eight years, Mercadona plans to have between 150 and 200 stores scattered across the country, thus becoming a relevant player fighting for market share.

Restaurants: increase in private consumption and tourist activity

The tourism sector is key to the Portuguese economy. In 2019, tourist revenues contributed 8.7% to national GDP. Thus, the impact of the COVID-19 health crisis on the Portuguese Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional (HRI) sector was devastating during 2020.

Nevertheless, given the prevailing economic uncertainty worldwide and the volatile nature of the situation, it seems unlikely that sales will return to pre-COVID-19 levels in the near future. As such, establishments will need to remain flexible, focusing on the continuous development of services such as takeaway and home delivery, which have been key for the survival of many hospitality establishments. In addition, they may also need to adapt their menus and pricing to help gain the interest of locals.

In Portugal, snacks and eating out occupy an important place 1 in 4 Portuguese dine out 1 time per week.

Portugal wine consumption, by volume

Consumers prefer more natural products and are willing to pay more to satisfy their new demands and their search for new products. They are also more attentive to the attributes of products, asking about their origin and composition.

Despite some Portuguese spirits, the market is very open to new foreign drinks, new flavors and mixology.

The wine market is not very open

The first wine suppliers are Spain and Italy. The wine market is not very open to foreign wines. French wines have been slowly penetrating the market for a few years with the arrival of French residents and importers. Communication and promotion are essential to make a foreign producer known. Nevertheless, consumers are more and more demanding, informed, and eager for novelties.

Foreign products are highly valued and prices are often too high for the average consumer. Importers and wine shops and/or supermarkets charge high margins, which limit access to imported products.

The Portuguese consumer still knows little about French wines and the sommelier schools only present certain regions. The arrival of many foreigners living in Portugal contributes to this desire for foreign products and training for restaurants.

Many wine bars have opened in recent years to follow the trend of a growing and prosperous sector. Many of them are managed by foreigners, especially French, who want to promote French wines.

Portugal wine consumption, by value

There is a craze for natural, biodynamic or organic wines, mainly in food service.

Merchant style: bargaining and palaver

Success in introducing new products in the Portuguese market depends on acquiring local representation and making personal contact. Having a distributor that is appointed on an exclusive basis is ideal.

Portugal has sales channels ranging from traditional distribution methods, whereby wholesalers sell to small retailers that sell to the public, to large multinational supermarkets and retail stores. However, personal relationships are still very important, especially within smaller organizations.

Portugal has a low propensity for conflict. The Portuguese find it difficult to say “no” and their discourse can seem vague, lacking in precision. Portugal has a very rich culture of traditions. Decision-making is slowed down due to a strong hierarchy.
The Portuguese are courteous, even formal, and expect the same courtesy from the foreign businessman. Great importance is placed on dress and presentation, which must be very classical.

Indeed, the Portuguese are very attached to image and prestige.

Portugal: platform to Angola, Mozambique and Brazil
Our evaluation method
The data shows key metrics, and these are combined to show a ranking calculated using a composite weighted attractiveness combining overall economic factors and wine market factors.
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Wine Market Attractiveness