Spain will dethrone France as the world's leading wine producer by 2015, according to a study French social research body, CREDOC (Centre de Recherche pour l'Etude et l'Observation des Conditions de Vie) and commissioned by the country's independent wine growers, the Vignerons Indépendants de France (VIF).

French wine production is predicted to fall by around 20% on the period 2000-2004 to 43.9m hectolitres by 2015 due to a diminution in consumption particularly for red wines, whites and rosés remaining stable.

The fall in French red wine consumption is estimated at 2.6% annually between 2000 and 2008 and 1.1% annually between 2008 and 2015. Factors behind the decline include health issues, more occasional consumption among the younger generation and the working class and competition with non-alcohol drinks served at meal-times.

French wines are also set to suffer on the international front, with exports down not only to traditional markets in western Europe but emerging ones too such as China and also Japan as a result of competition from New World wines.

Of French wines' 12 main foreign markets, representing 81% of sales, export volumes are set to fall by an average of 1.1% annually between 2005 and 2015, the report said.

Commenting on the findings in the report, the president of VIF, Michel Issaly, said: "In certain markets, it is necessary to adapt products to new customers expectations and we are trying to get the message across." This is likely to focus on optimising distribution, especially in supermarket outlets and reducing logistics costs.