Grapevine & Wine 02/04/2012

World wine consumption remains stable thanks to Asia and America

Changing consumption habits continue to delay the recovery in the principal producing countries, such as those in the EU where consumption fell by almost one million hectolitres in 2011

In 2011, world wine consumption stood at a mid-range estimate of 241.9 Mhl, which is an increase of 1.7 Mhl compared with 2010 (+0.7%). This means that in 2011, world consumption stopped falling and an albeit very moderate return to growth is promised.

Nevertheless and due particularly to the general economic situation, the largest consumer continent, namely Europe, is a long way from recovering its pre-crisis growth.

So, among the traditional European wine producing and/or consumption countries, Italian consumption showed a significant fall of around 1.6 Mhl (-6.3%, which follows a growth of 0.5 Mhl between 2009 and 2010), despite an increase in French consumption (+1.0 Mhl, after an marked drop of 1.3 between 2009 and 2010), the stability of German consumption, and the modest falls in Spanish (-0.2 Mhl), British (-0.4 Mhl) and Portuguese (-0.15 Mhl) consumption in 2011.

The United States, the world's second largest market in terms of volume, experienced a growth evaluated at +0.9 Mhl to reach 28.5 Mhl according to an initial analysis (evaluation excluding special wines and vermouth), while between 2009 and 2010 growth was only 0.35 Mhl.

With regards China, consumption has continued to increase, especially considering the rapid growth of imports without evidence of significant exports from the country. Apparent consumption in China approached 17.0 Mhl in 2011 (+1.15 Mhl compared with 2010).

In 2011, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, Chile and New Zealand recorded internal demand equivalent to that of 2010.

The total worldwide area under vines (i.e. including the areas under vines not yet in production or harvested), should once again decrease between 2010 and 2011 by 94 mha (-1.2%), and amount to approximately 7495 mha.

The world's largest vineyard, that of the EU was established at 3530 mha and therefore fell by approximately 90 mha or -2.5% between 2010 and 2011. This reduction is more marked than that recorded between 2009 and 2010 (65 mha). The vineyard outside the EU appears to be almost stable for the third consecutive year.

The 3 EU grubbing campaigns led to an overall reduction in the European Union's vineyard estimated at 262 mha between 2008 and 2011, with approximately 175 mha resulting in the payment of permanent abandonment premiums.

In America, the area under vines in Argentina recorded a "statistical" reduction of 10 mha, following a revision in the method for accounting for areas under vines that in 2011 no longer included paths and headlands. In the opinion of national experts, there was no significant change in the size of the Argentine vineyard between 2010 and 2011.

This apparent negative change is in fact partially compensated by the return to growth of the Australian vineyard (+4 mha after a fall of 6 mha between 2009 and 2010) and by the likely continuation in the growth of the Chinese vineyard (at a more moderate pace however than at the start of the 2000-2010 decade) and the Chilean vineyard, while the Turkish and South African vineyards continue to decline.

In 2011, world wine production (excluding juice and musts) was estimated at a mid-range estimate of 265.7 Mhl, which is an increase of 0.6 Mhl on 2010. This global wine production can therefore be described as low, even very modest, particularly in the European Union.

In this geographic area, the most significant quantitative reduction was in Italy, which saw its 2011 wine production fall by almost 7 Mhl compared with that of 2010 (-14.3%). Portuguese production (-16.9%) and to a lesser extent, Spanish production, also recorded falls of -1.2 and -0.9 Mhl respectively.

Conversely, French production excluding juice and musts recorded a growth of 3.9 Mhl (+8.6%), while in 2011, German and Austrian production returned to normal levels and Romanian production with 4.7 Mhl recovered, but did not however return to its pre-2009 harvest level (reminder 2009 and 2010 harvest: 6.7 and 3.3 Mhl).

In America, the United States recorded a relatively modest wine production in 2011 with 18.7 Mhl excluding juice and musts, -10.3% compared with 2010. However, production in the southern part of the continent was very high: Chile achieved a new production record with 10.6 Mhl and Argentina maintained a significant wine production despite a return to normal for the production of juice and musts (15.5 Mhl compared with 16.3 last year), while Brazil reached nearly 3.5 Mhl (against 2.5 in 2010).

In South Africa, wine production grew slightly to almost 9.7 Mhl (9.3 Mhl in 2010 and 10.0 Mhl in 2009).

Finally, while Australian production has continued to decline and is struggling to exceed 11 Mhl, and Swiss production has returned to its traditional level at 1.1 Mhl, New Zealand production recorded a record harvest at 2.35 Mhl (+0.45 Mhl/2010).

di Aliona Avduhova