By 2008 South Africa will have overtaken Germany, Portugal and Chile in the rankings of the world’s wine producing countries.

South Africa will be producing 35% more wine by 2008, while global wine production will have increased by 6.4% overall, according to research presented by British firm International Wine & Spirits Record on the global wine and spirits market, for wine fair organiser Vinexpo.

The study also predicts that the global wine surplus will return by 2008 to the level of 2000. The world surplus had dropped in 2003 but rose sharply in 2004. This will continue to grow, and by 2008 will represent 11.3% of world production.

Vinexpo chief executive Robert Beynat was in London last week to present the report and promote the 13th edition of Vinexpo, the bi-annual fair that takes place in Bordeaux in June.

Beynat was optimistic about the future for the global wine industry, where consumption is forecast to grow by 6.3% by 2008.

‘Value is going up twice as fast as volume,’ he told decanter.com. ‘More wine is being drunk but people are drinking better wine. This includes the UK and US. Globally wine has a bright future but there are problems in some countries like Australia, which has planted a lot but is not seeing a sufficient return because their wine prices are too low.’

Beynat commented on the French government’s new €70m package for the wine industry, saying once it was divided between different budgets it would have little effect compared with the size of the global industry.

‘It’s good that the package provides help to the sellers as well as the producers. However, compared to the US$100bn global wine market. €3.5m to promote French wine exports is a drop in the ocean.’

He welcomed the new Conseil de la Moderation, now being set up by the French government to bring the drinks industry, medical profession and those responsible for road safety together. ‘It will be good if it provides a go-between for producers, consumers and those who demonise wine as if it was a hard drug like cocaine.’

Written by Jim Budd