The US remains top of the world wine consumption league and is expected to grow further in the next four years, but the industry still isn't sure about the best way to handle so-called millennials, suggests a new report jointly presented by trade show Vinexpo and research group IWSR...

World wine consumption trends

USA 

The US is still seeing significant wine sales growth; it is the highest wine consuming country by volume, drinking 341.5 million nine-litre cases in 2016.

This is expected to rise 4.9% by 2020, to 358.3 million cases, according to a report released this week by trade show Vinexpo and drinks research firm The IWSR.

Its figures re-inforce evidence of a consumer trend towards higher-priced wines in the US, too. US wine retail sales are forecast to increase by 11% up to 2020, to $38.6 billion; twice the size of the nearest competitor, the UK.

Only China is expected to grow faster than the US in that time period in volume terms, while the UK market will stay roughly flat in volume as higher demand for sparkling wine offsets a drop in still wine consumption.

Millennials

Capturing the millennial market is a key aim for much of the wine trade. But, opinions on these younger consumers vary.

Millennials are drinking less wine than generations before them, according to wine consumption data from Vinexpo and IWSR.

This echoes other research suggesting that millennials globally are more likely to switch between drinks, such as wine, craft beer and spirits, than stick to one category.

This trend was first reported regarding US millennials last year, but now appears to apply worldwide.

‘They are less loyal to the products,’ Vinexpo’s chief executive, Guillaume Deglise, told Decanter.com. ‘But I also think the wine industry needs to adapt.’

There appears to be a generational shift, according to Deglise. Habits are changing from common consumption of wine to more thoughtful drinking.

‘Millennials want to know exactly what is in the glass; the grape variety, where it is from, how it is made.’

Prosecco still driving sparkling growth globally

Sparkling wine will continue to grow, and this continues to be driven by the Prosecco trend, according to the report.

By 2020, Prosecco consumption will grow by  13.6%, up to 34.4 million nine litre cases.

‘Prosecco has made a major shift to become it’s own brand,’ said Deglise.

‘You don’t hide that you’re drinking Prosecco anymore; it’s what people are asking for.’

The success is also down to the price, according to Deglise.

‘It’s an everyday luxury, and perceived as ‘‘less serious’’ than Champagne.’

UK market

Still wine consumption is declining in the UK, predicted to fall by 1.6% from 119.3 million to 117.4 million cases between now and 2020.

Sparkling wine, however, is on the rise, predicted to grow by 18.8% to 15.2 million cases by 2020.

Brexit has resulted in economic uncertainty and price increases; and wine is a ‘very price sensitive market.’

It particular, the low-cost market – bottles priced £5 and under – will suffer, as it will be tricky to maintain this price point, said Deglise.

Vinexpo Bordeaux will take place from 18th – 21st June.

Updated: 8th May 2017

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