France has been relegated to third place behind Italy and Spain in the league table of wine exporting nations, according to new figures released by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).
According to OIV estimates for 2008, France exported 13.6m hectolitres (hl) of wine, giving it a global market share of 15%.
But Spain’s exports are thought to have reached 16.5m hl, while Italy’s hit 17.2m hl. France’s exports have lagged behind Italy since the early 2000s, the OIV said.
Meanwhile, global wine consumption fell by 2m hl last year, thanks to continued declines in traditional wine-drinking countries such as France, Italy and Spain. For the first time, the US overtook Italy in terms of wine consumption, with Americans buying about 27.3m hl of wine in 2008.
‘It is obvious that the world economic crisis has played a role in lowering overall demand,’ said Federico Castellucci, OIV director general. But global sales by volume and production had still increased during the year, he added.
Meanwhile, the global area under vine fell slightly to 7.861m hectares (ha), the OIV said. Increased plantings in areas like South America and New Zealand were offset by the ripping out of vines in the Old World.
Europe is estimated to have lost 33,000ha of vines during 2008, with 15,000ha being removed in France alone.
Written by Richard Woodard