Olly Wehring

Wine industry relying on China? Oh dear...

By: Olly Wehring - 24 November 2006 16:28

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I have to say, even I was momentarily lost for words when I saw the recent estimates for the total global 2006 wine harvest. The Paris-based International Organisation of Wine and Vine (OIV) estimates the haul to reach 280m hectolitres this year. At the same time, the consumption of this year’s harvest is projected to reach around 238m hectolitres, leaving a gap of 42m hectolitres.

Isn’t that surplus about the same as the entire annual output from Spain?

The problem the industry faces is that, whilst the traditional wine markets of continental Europe continue to decline, it can no longer rely on the likes of the UK to act as a positive counterbalance. As such, the gap between production and consumption only looks set to grow.

Some optimistic producers now point to developing markets such as China as potential growth regions to take up slack. But as one long-time wine industry contact of mine told me this week: “When you start relying on the Far-East for growth you know you are really in the sh!t.”

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