US wine consumption is predicted to increase in the next few years

US wine consumption is predicted to increase in the next few years

Five years ago this week, the US was forecast to become the world's largest wine-consuming market by 2010.

Media firm the Beverage Information Group (BIG) said in August 2008 that, if growth levels continued, America would overtake both France and Italy to become the largest global wine market in volume terms by the end of the decade

So, did this prediction come true? The answer appears to be 'just about'. Figures from The IWSR suggest that the US had overtaken France and Italy by 2011. But, as Treasury Wine Estates has found to its cost recently, predicting the US wine market can be a difficult business.

How have forecasters fared in the interim? 

In early 2009, BIG's prediction was backed by wine exhibition body Vinexpo. Based on IWSR figures, it predicted that Americans would be expected to buy some 314m cases of wines by 2012, reflecting an 11.9% rise from 2008.

However, the following year, Vinexpo was predicting that the US would only become the world's biggest market by volume “in the next three years” as volume growth was predicted to rise in the US by around 7%.

BIG, meanwhile, reported that, in 2010, US wine sales rose by just 2% to 303.1m nine-litre cases.

By 2011, Vinexpo, based on IWSR figures, was predicting that US wine sales were set to increase by 9% to $23.8bn by 2014.

Today, the US is the world's biggest consumer of wine in pure volume terms, but not on a per capita basis, by a reasonable distance.

Vinexpo says that total US wine consumption last year was around 333m nine-litre cases. Its nearest rival, France, consumed around 301m nine-litre cases, closely followed by Italy. Between them, the US, France and Italy consume around 45% of the world's wine.

Looking ahead, US consumption is expected to keep growing – by around 12% to 2016 - while France and Italy will continue to fade.

But, the real growth in wine consumption is expected to come, unsurprisingly, from China. Volumes are forecast to climb from 177m nine-litre cases last year to 247m cases in 2016, a rise of around 40%.

Now, there's a market worth targeting for winemakers.