France poised to reclaim top wine producer title

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Eu

France may reclaim from Italy the title of biggest wine producer in the world this year, according to provisional 2009 data from the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).

Early estimates on wine production and consumption figures present a mixed picture of the industry. A new EU compensation scheme to encourage growers to give up inefficient vineyards is set to shrink wine-growing areas in the EU 27 by about 75 million hectares (mha) in 2009, to 3730 mha.

Steady production

Despite this 2 per cent decrease, OIV expects wine production in the EU 27 to increase 1 per cent and world production to remain stable at around 268 mha.

Within the EU, France is expected to recapture the crown of biggest wine producer, with a slight increase in production, as the current leader, Italy, is on course for a drop in production.

As for levels of wine consumption in 2009, OIV was uneasy about giving firm predictions. A modest reduction in consumption was observed between 2007 and 2008 as the financial crisis hit, and a continuation of that downward trend is expected this year.

Wine consumption

Federico Castellucci, director general of the OIV, said: “Unless the volume of imports increases, world viniculture consumption in 2009 may, unfortunately, continue to decrease compared to 2008 levels.

“This decrease shall be due to a decrease in trade volume and the consumption of importer countries, affected by the crisis.”

While demand from countries badly affected by the recession is likely to fall, sales volumes may actually increase in some recession-hit countries.

OIV pointed to the recent evolution in demand from the US saying that volumes are increasing in the country, despite the recession. But that good news has a caveat as purchase prices are on the decrease.

To view the full OIV economic data on the wine sector, click here.

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