COMMENT: Wine consumption concerns in Bordeaux
Bordeaux's wine producers are facing a slump in sales.
Sales of Bordeaux wines have fallen sharply over the past five years. At the Interprofessional Council for Bordeaux Wines (CIVB) this week, many wine producers blamed the new Evin Law banning alcohol advertising, but the drop in consumption may be more directly attributable to changing consumer trends.
Last week, a symposium of 300 professionals linked to the wine industry in Bordeaux attempted to address the problem facing the region's wine producers, namely falling sales. According to the CIVB, sales last year fell by 0.7m hectoliters from 6.4m in 1998. As a result, almost one in ten of the region's wine producers face serious financial difficulties.
There are several reasons for this worrying decline. The first is simply that French consumers are drinking less wine than previously. Simultaneously, the area devoted to wine production in the Bordeaux region has risen by more than two thirds over the last 30 years. This has resulted in serious overproduction. Much of the excess wine is of a relatively low quality and is reserved for export, which damages the region's image.
Although the majority of Bordeaux wine is consumed in the domestic market, problems facing wine exports are affecting wine producers. The euro's strength against the dollar impedes exports of French wines, to the advantage of New World wines such as those from Australia, South America and South Africa, whose quality has improved markedly in recent years.
Wine growers have also complained about the recently introduced Evin Law, which placed stringent limits on alcohol advertising. Wine producers had argued that, by virtue of its unique position in the nation's culture, wine should be exempt from these regulations. However others claim that the regulatory environment has only a minor impact on sales of wine.
Ultimately though, increasingly widespread concerns regarding health mean that consumers are simply drinking less wine than previously. Wine consumption in France has also suffered from a shortening of lunch breaks. Increasing time pressure means that many meals are now taken quickly, sometimes on the move, which reduces daily consumption of wine with meals.
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