France could run out of rosé as global demand soars

Demand has soared for pink wine, but a low production level in 2017 has seen stocks strained

Bad news for rosé drinkers: France could run out of pink wine this summer as demand rises across the world and production struggles to keep up.

The country produces over 25 million hectolitres every year - over 10% of the world’s consumption of rosé - but demand has risen by 31% in recent years, and the number of countries that are now importing French pink wine has jumped by 16%, according to reports.

France is also the world’s biggest consumer of rosé: one in three bottles sold in the Hexagon is pink, while consumption levels equate to every French person drinking an average of 20 bottles of pink wine per year.

The biggest production regions are the Languedoc (320 million bottles per year) and Provence (160 million bottles), with the Loire in third place.

And yet, low harvest levels in 2017 mean last year’s vintage has become scarce, and prices rose last year by as much as 20-30% per hectolitre in Provence. There were over 20 million fewer bottles produced last year compared to the year before, straining stocks even more.

And, despite a continuing rise in production, the most-prized wine, with the AOC label, is still only making up 13% of the total output, and still represents just one sale in every 10.

As the world’s biggest rosé wine producer this is positive for the French industry, but could see supplies running low closer to home.

Export markets are thirsty for an ever-more scarce number of bottles, with the United States in the lead, followed by the UK and Germany. The overall export market has expanded by 11.5% in 10 years, generating €226.2 million in 2017.

The industry is racing to keep up: production levels have risen by 35% in the past seven years, and sales of rosé AOC-IGP have soared by as much as 50% in five years - with most bottles selling easily in supermarkets and other large shops.

Prices have also soared to match demand, rising by as much as 38% in 2017, and an average hike of 30% every year for the past three years.

A bottle straight from the producer now costs on average €4.44 each, which, although representing a rise in cost, still makes the wine attractive to the export market.

The cost of good quality land has also risen: just one hectare of AOC côtes-de-provence land now costs on average €45,000 - a rise of 28% in the past eight years, and one hectare of coteaux-varois-en-provence costs €25,000 - a soaring rise of 39% since 2010.

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