The wine industry worldwide is now worth as much as the global cosmetics industry – and it's going up and up, the latest research has found.

The turnover of the retail wine market in 2002 was US$101.5bn (€94.67) – the same amount that is spent on cosmetics. That figure is calculated to reach US$111bn (€103.54) by 2006.

The research, carried out by analysts International Wine and Spirits Record for exhibitions organiser Vinexpo, covers 28 wine-producing countries and 110 consumer countries. The company forecasts figures to 2006 based on the latest validated figures from 2002.

The research was released at a press conference in London yesterday which also heard that the UK is one of the biggest wine markets in the world, and our consumption is increasing.

Between 1997 and 2001 we upped our wine purchases by 19%. Adults in the UK now drink 21.8 litres each per year. By 2006, the research estimates, we will be drinking 25.4l per year.

In terms of consumption the UK is still behind Denmark (44 litres per year by 2006) Belgium (30.6l) and the Netherlands (26.9l).

According to the research – which is based on independently validated figures for imports of wine (as opposed to reported sales of wines) – the surge in the UK’s figures is due to the same people drinking more wine, rather than more people acquiring the habit.

Wine in the UK is also getting more expensive, while worldwide more and more people are buying more expensive wines. The average cost of a bottle of wine in the UK is £4.65 (€6.91) – cheaper than Japan (£6.39/€9.50) and Finland (£4.84/€7.19), but considerably more expensive than the world average price of £2.65 (€3.94).

The worldwide trend for more expensive wines is expected to continue, IWSR says. At the moment, wines costing US$5 (€4.66) or more represent 13% of the market. The researchers calculate a massive increase of 42% in sales of wines costing US$10 (€9.33) or more between 2001 and 2006. At present this category represents just under 4% of the volume.

Meanwhile the popularity of wine in the UK is having knock-on effects on the country’s pubs. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) reports that 20 pubs are closing a week because less and less people are popping out for a pint. London has the biggest number of non-pub-goers – 39%, compared with 27% nationally.

  • The biennial Vinexpo Bordeaux international wine and spirits fair takes place from 22 June to 26 June 2003. Open to the wine trade only, 55,000 visitors from 140 countries are expected to visit 2,500 exhibitors from 40 countries.

    Written by Adam Lechmere19 February 2003