Global wine consumption recovers from pandemic-hit 2020, but remains down on 2019

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/klausvedfelt
Pic:getty/klausvedfelt

Related tags: Wine

Global wine consumption edged up in 2021 with the reopening of the on-trade: although consumption trends vary greatly between regions.

Global wine consumption for 2021 is estimated at 236mhl, marking an increase of 0.7% on 2020 volumes, according to figures released by international wine organisation OIV.

This represents a slight uptick on a downward trend that has marked the industry since 2018, although volumes remain down on pre-pandemic 2019’s figure of 260mhl.

The latest global wine production figures from the OIV can also be found here.

EU consumers cut back on wine

The EU, with a wine consumption estimate of 114 mhl, accounts for 48% of the world consumption. This figure is 3% higher than the level estimated in the pandemic-stricken year of 2020 - where the industry recorded consumption of 110.5 mhl, one of the lowest volumes recorded ever - and brings the EU wine consumption back to its last ten-year average.

But the EU’s share of global wine consumption has significantly decreased since 2000, when it was estimated at 59%.

“This is the combined effect of the rise of new markets in the world and an overall reduction of wine consumption in traditional producing countries within the EU, which today in total consume about 20 mhl less than in 2000 (-15%),”​ notes the OIV.

Within the EU, France is the largest consumer (and the second largest in the world behind the US) with around 25.2mhl consumed in 2021. As a market that relies heavily on the HoReCa channel, 2021 saw volumes grow 8.6% on 2020. However, volumes were also up 2% on pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Italy, the second largest market in the EU and third at world level, had an estimated wine consumption of 24.2 mhl in 2021, a level in line with 2020. This is the highest wine consumption level recorded in Italy since the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008.

Maintaining its position of 3rd largest consumer within the EU (and 4th at world level), Germany recorded a level of 19.8 mhl in 2021 (down 0.2% on 2020).

Spain also increased its wine consumption volume in 2021, reaching 10.5 mhl (up 9.9% on 2020), a  figure  in  line  with  its  pre-pandemic  average levels.

Similarly, countries like Romania (4.0 mhl, +4.6%), Netherlands (3.8 mhl, +3.4%), Austria (2.4 mhl, +2.3%), and Czech Republic (2.3 mhl, +11.9%), all showed an increase in their wine consumption levels in 2021.

However, declines against 2020 and against five year averages were seen in Portugal (4.6 mhl, -0.6% on 2020), Belgium (2.5 mhl, -4.1%), Greece (2.2 mhl, -0.4%), and Sweden (2.1 mhl, -0.3%) were also seen.

Resilient markets

In contrast to many other countries, the UK proved to be a resilient wine market in 2020 and shows a similar volume of wine consumption in 2021, estimated at 13.4 mhl (3.4% higher than its last five-year average).

Russia’s wine consumption is estimated at 10.5 mhl, with a rise of 2% compared to 2020. This is the fourth consecutive year of growth recorded in Russia.

The US remains the largest wine consuming country in the world according to the 2021 figures: making up 14% of the world’s wine market. 2021 consumption of 33mhl was in line with 2020.

“Over the last three years, the US has proven to be a resilient market, notwithstanding trade-related tensions with some EU countries and  the  restrictions  imposed  by  the  Covid-19 pandemic,”​ notes OIV.

Chinese wine consumption declines continue

In Asia, China’s  2021  wine consumption is expected to have come in at around 10.5 mhl, accounting for a 15% drop with respect to 2020. Although this is an early estimate, it follows the expected downward trend observed in the industry since 2018, which has had a knock-on effect on global consumption figures.

“This steep decline  reflects  the  rapidly  declining  demand after a boom in wine consumption that saw its peak in 2017, with a decline of more than 9 mhl,”​ notes the OIV.

“The downfall in Chinese consumption since then is causing a significant impact in driving down world consumption.”

The second highest consuming country in Asia is Japan, which is estimated to have a wine consumption level in 2021 of 3.3 mhl (down 5.4% on 2020).

Southern hemisphere markets

In South America, the wine industry’s fortunes vary dramatically between neighbours Argentina and Brazil.

In Argentina, with 8.4 mhl in 2021, wine consumption has decreased by 11.1% with respect to 2020, a year that saw an increase in consumption even amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Argentina’s wine consumption shows a clear downward trend since the beginning of this century, a decline accentuated by the reduced purchasing power of consumers because of the economic turmoil and currency devaluation facing the country.

“On the contrary, Brazil, second largest market in South America, with a level of 4.1 mhl in 2021, has increased its consumption by 1.2% with respect to 2020, reaching a record-high since 2000. This boom in wine consumption in the last two years could be due to a change in wine consumption patterns  during  the  pandemic,  shifting  Brazil’s demand for wine to a higher level.”

In South Africa, reconciling from the restriction of the lockdown in 2020, where local sales of alcohol were banned for 14 weeks, estimated consumption in 2021 is 4.0 mhl, an increase of 27.5% compared to 2020. However, this level is still 5.3% lower than its last five-years average.  

In Australia, tenth market in the world by volume, 2021 wine consumption is estimated at 5.9 mhl, only slightly higher than its 2020 level (+0.3%), but 7.9% higher than its last five-year average. This level is the highest consumption ever recorded in Australia.

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