Low wine harvest could damage economy, figures suggest

The “historically low” level of wine harvest expected in France this year could have significant effects on the economy as a whole, due to the industry’s national importance.

Published Last updated

This year, Agreste, the bureau of statistics from the minister for Agriculture, has warned that harvest levels for French wine could be “historically low”, at levels not seen since 1991. This is due to the severe frost in spring, which affected significant vineyard regions.

As reported previously, harvests are expected to be 17% lower than in 2016, and 16% lower than the average of the past five years, according to Agreste.

This will “significantly affect” the production in the South-West, the Charentes, the Jura, and the Alsace regions, and also risks damaging the wider economy, due to the importance of France’s wine export market, according to the bureau, as reported in newspaper Le Monde this week.

Wine production in France is also one of the country’s largest employers, especially for seasonal workers, including 290 000 jobs, with that number almost tripling during the harvest season.

The industry is also popular with tourists, attracting 10 million visitors per year, of which 42% are from abroad, according to figures from the Vin et Société website.

France is the second-largest wine producer in the world, just behind Italy, bringing in over €10,5 billion in 2016, which is “equivalent to the sale of 118 Airbus” aeroplanes, according to the annual report from the Federation of Wine and Spirit Exporters (Fédération des exportateurs de vin et spiritueux, FEVS).

Wine and spirits are only second place in export value for the country, just behind the €18,6 billion brought in by the aeronautical industry.

Despite this, some of the main importers of French wine - including the UK, Germany, and Singapore - have decreased the amount of product imported in the last couple of years (although other markets, such as the United States and China, have increased imports).

Figures show that the French drink the most wine out of any world nation, at 42.7 litres per year per person, compared to 42.1 for Portugal, 35.5 for Italy, and 19.8 in the UK.