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GLOBAL: Wine consumption to rise faster, but not in Europe

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Global wine consumption will increase faster over the next four years, but mature markets and a tough economic climate in much of Europe will leave the US and Asia to drive growth, according to Vinexpo.  

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Strong demand for wine in the US and China will force more wine companies to focus greater resources on Asia and North America, said Vinexpo's CEO, Robert Beynat, at a briefing for journalists in London today (11 January). In 2011, the US officially overtook France and Italy to become the world's biggest wine consumer by volume.

Between 2011 and the end of 2015, the US and Asia will drive a 6% increase in global wine consumption, to 2.8bn nine-litre cases, said Beynat, citing IWSR figures. Consumption rose by 4.5% between 2005 and 2010. 

Wine sales by volume are expected to rise by 10% in the US up to 2015. China, meanwhile, has overtaken the UK in the past year to become the world's fifth largest wine market by volume, if Hong Kong is included in the figures.

With per capita consumption in China still a fraction of that in developed markets, at around one litre, the country is tipped to overtake the US to become the largest wine market in the world within the next two decades. "That's where eveyone is looking: China, China, China," said Beynat.    

There is a different story in much of Europe, where consumption is set to continue falling in key wine producer nations, such as France and Italy. The region's economic travails will also hamper wine firms' progress.  

In the UK, wine consumption per capita will fall to around 24 litres per person in 2015. This is below 2005 levels and represents an expected 4% drop in market volume between 2011 and 2015. 

Beynat told journalists that the UK remains an important market. "24 litres is good data if you compare it to the US. The US is around 14 [litres per capita]," he said.

In value terms, Beynat highlighted that the UK will remain the world's biggest importer of wine by value up to 2015. However, there is long-standing concern within the UK trade about the lack of profits filtering down the supply chain. 

Despite figures produced by Accolade Wines showing that above-inflation duty tax increases have accounted for 80% of the increase in UK wine market value since 2002, Beynat insisted that consumers also buying higher quality wines. "The UK is drinking less but better," he said. 

Still, it is the US and Asia that are causing most excitement. This year will see the return of the Vinexpo Asia-Pacific expo in Hong Kong, scheduled for May. 

In November, meanwhile, Vinexpo will launch its first consumer wine show in New York, US, named 'Rendez-Vous by Vinexpo'. If this goes well, the wine expo group plans to expand the format to other cities in 2013 and 2014. In particular, the group will consider the possibility of going to other US cities, as well as London and cities in Asia.

In 2011, China's wine consumption reached 156.19m nine-litre cases. The US hit 311.3m cases.


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