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‘Sudden fall’: Concern over people drinking less wine in France

Winegrowers should export more to cope with a trend of young people turning to beer and spirits, a leading national cooperative has said

Over the last 60 years, consumption of wine in France has dropped from 120 litres per person per year to 40 litres now Pic: Song_about_summer / Shutterstock

Winegrowers in France have said the country must export more of its wine to help the industry face up to the issue of decreasing domestic consumption.

At the 50th wine congress organised this week in Saumur (Maine-et-Loire), the national winemaker cooperative les Vignerons coopérateurs de France raised the alarm over what it called the “brutal fall” of wine consumption in the country.

Supermarket sales have dropped by 2% in volume year-on-year, it said, and by 3% in absolute terms, said the cooperative at its Congrès des Vignerons coopérateurs de France. The cooperative groups together and represents 85,000 winemakers across the country.

The drop follows a continuous trend: 60 years ago, consumption of French wine was at an average of 120 litres per person per year in France, which has dropped to 40 litres now (a fall of almost 70%).

However, the cooperative said that 2022 had seen an “acceleration” of the trend, and marked a “turning point”, especially for red wine.

Read more: The wine industry is in constant evolution in France and beyond

It suggested several reasons for the drop, including a trend towards young people drinking more spirits and beer, and less wine. It also said that there had been a change in habits when it comes to meals, which are less of a “ritual”. This, it said, had also led to a “loss of sharing among families”.

The cooperative suggested several fixes, including:

  • Stopping what they called the “stigmatisation" of the product 
  • Restoring respect for wine’s credentials, by working on its labelling and making its origin more visible
  • Responding better to consumer expectations, for example by reducing the use of phytosanitary products and reducing the carbon impact of winemakers’ activity 
  • Helping people in France to “rediscover wine at the heart of the vineyard”, by developing wine tourism further.

Read more: ‘Stark health warnings on every wine bottle in France is absurd’ 

Head of the Vignerons coopérateurs, Joël Boueilh, also said at the conference that the industry “must export more” to improve its health.

Read more: Wine producers in France to distil surplus to avoid price drops 

He said: “We are finding ourselves confronted by…a phenomenon of overproduction, and people who are feeling very hopeless because they no longer know what to do with their wine…it’s a direct consequence of this paradigm, this change that we’re suffering from today, which is hitting us full-speed.” 

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