France remains king of global fine wine exports

While France may not be producing and exporting the most wine in the world it is certainly producing the finest as its share of the market value shows.

France remains king of global fine wine exports
Photo: AFP

The global wine market grew almost 11 percent last year as China not only drank more wine but also produced more, the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) said this week.

In a market worth €28.3 billion ($32 billion) in 2015, France remains by far the largest exporter in terms of market share value, with 29 percent, equivalent to €8.2 billion.

But France only ranks third in volume of exports, at 14 million hectolitres, reflecting the high quality of its wines which fetch higher prices than its competitors.

Spain is the world's biggest exporter by volume with 24 million hectolitres but has slipped to third place in terms of market share value because of the relatively low price per unit.

Italy is now the world's second-largest exporter at 20 million hectolitres, with a market share value of €5.3 billion, the OIV said.

China is playing an increasing role in fuelling global growth both in consumption and production.

The world's biggest tipplers are Americans, drinking 31 million hectolitres last year, ahead of France 27.2 million hectolitres, slightly down from the previous year. Chinese drinkers consumed 16 million hectolitres, up from 15.5 million in 2014.

In terms of consumption, five countries guzzle half of the world's wine: The US (31 percent), France (11 percent) Germany (9 percent) Italy (9 percent) and China (7 percent).

Furthermore, while other countries slightly reduced production, China increased the amount of land given over to vineyards by 34,000 hectares in the space of a year.

“China remains the main driver of growth in the global wine industry,” OIV director-general Jean-Marie Aurand told a press conference in Paris.

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Cold snap ‘could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent’

A rare cold snap that froze vineyards across much of France this month could see harvest yields drop by around a third this year, France's national agriculture observatory said on Thursday.

Cold snap 'could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent'
A winemaker checks whether there is life in the buds of his vineyard in Le Landreau, near Nantes in western France, on April 12th, following several nights of frost. Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Winemakers were forced to light fires and candles among their vines as nighttime temperatures plunged after weeks of unseasonably warm weather that had spurred early budding.

Scores of vulnerable fruit and vegetable orchards were also hit in what Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie called “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.”

IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze in bid to ward off frosts

The government has promised more than €1 billion in aid for destroyed grapes and other crops.

Based on reported losses so far, the damage could result in up to 15 million fewer hectolitres of wine, a drop of 28 to 30 percent from the average yields over the past five years, the FranceAgriMer agency said.

That would represent €1.5 to €2 billion of lost revenue for the sector, Ygor Gibelind, head of the agency’s wine division, said by videoconference.

It would also roughly coincide with the tally from France’s FNSEA agriculture union.

Prime Minister Jean Castex vowed during a visit to damaged fields in southern France last Saturday that the emergency aid would be made available in the coming days to help farmers cope with the “exceptional situation.”

READ ALSO: ‘We’ve lost at least 70,000 bottles’ – French winemakers count the cost of late frosts