Vinexpo chief Robert Beynat is planning a return to the United States for the trade fair, after more than six years away.
The last time Vinexpo was in America was Chicago in 2004, an event which attracted 25% less than the New York Vinexpo two years before.
At the time, France’s standing in the US was at an all-time low because of its opposition to the 2003 war with Iraq. It was not an auspicious time for Vinexpo to mount a trade fair in the US, Beynat said.
‘Chicago Vinexpo was just after the start of the Iraq war, and after [Foreign Minister] Dominique de Villepin’s speech at the UN in New York [arguing against the war],’ he told Decanter.com.
But now, ‘it’s the right time to get back to America, and has been for a long time,’ he said.
Just looking at the statistics proved his point, Beynat said. ‘In the US they drink 12 litres of wine per capita per year. In the UK you drink 27 litres. If America is going the same way as the UK then it is the future.’
Beynat would give no more details about another American Vinexpo, except to say that he will be visiting the States in July and would make an announcement in November.
Beynat was speaking on the eve of Vinexpo 2011, which begins in Bordeaux on 19th June. It will be the 16th Vinexpo Bordeaux, and the 30th anniversary of the bi-annual wine trade fair.
Visitor and exhibitor numbers are stable, he said, although there are 48 countries represented this year as opposed to 45 in 2009: ‘the number of companies exhibiting is more or less the same, around 2,500’.
There are also double the amount of Chinese delegates, to around 2000.
Once again, multinationals such as Constellation and Pernod Ricard and other major companies such as Torres and Gallo will not be taking stands at the fair.
‘The reason is simple: 2010 was a difficult year for all these companies,’ Beynat said.
‘Results were less than they expected and they have to cut costs. It is easy to cut an international exhibition.’
As to his strategy to woo back some of this custom, Beynat said it was a constant process of ‘talking to them. I stay in touch with the CEOs of each company. They say Vinexpo Bordeaux is the best place to meet people and the only reason they don’t come is financial.’
Written by Adam Lechmere