Exports of Spanish wine increased by just 0.59 per cent in 2002 compared to the previous year to €1.48 billion, according to the latest data from the Spanish wine producers' association (FEV).
In volume terms, exports dropped by 0.23 per cent to 1.14 billion litres, while the average price per litre also edged higher at €1.31, up 0.83 per cent.
While the overall figures were somewhat disappointing, there were some performances worthy of note, such as a 5 per cent increase in sales of bottled Denomination of Origin (DO) wine to €696 million - with most of the increase coming from a hike in prices, since volumes edged up 2.19 per cent to 245 million litres. Bulk sales of DO wines, in contrast, showed a marked decline, falling 9.7 per cent to €39.8 million, despite a 1.24 per cent increase in volume sales to 67.8 million litres.
Bottled table wine exports dropped by 4.1 per cent to €132 million, reflecting a decline in prices as volumes increased by 7.13 per cent to 175 million litres. Bulk sales of table wine dropped in both value and volume terms, however, falling 14.1 per cent to €119 million and 12.3 per cent to 342 million litres.
Exports of cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, were 3 per cent higher at €252 million on the back of a 9.3 per cent increase to 86.9 million litres.
Meanwhile, the latest figures from FEV regarding domestic wine consumption show that Spaniards drunk 3.5 per cent less wine in September 2002 than in the same month a year earlier at 1.2 billion litres.
Of this, some 685 million litres was consumed in bars and restaurants, while the remainder was drunk at home, FEV said. Consumption at home declined 5.3 per cent, while the decline in consumption in bars and restaurants was 2.1 per cent.
FEV said that the declines in consumption were expected, as domestic wine sales had been declining steadily in the last few years. In fact, domestic sales are now some 152 million litres lower than in 1999.
In contrast to the export markets, table wine accounts for 67 per cent of total domestic consumption, FEV said, with 814 million litres consumed each year. The more expensive DO wines account for 27 per cent with 325 million litres drunk each year. Sparkling wine, cava and all other types of wine make up the remaining 6 per cent of sales.
"The declines in wine consumption show a change in Spanish drinking habits which we first noticed several years ago," said FEV. "Fewer meals are being eaten at home and fewer of them are being consumed with wine as an accompaniment, and this has led to steep declines in sales through food retail chains."