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Downturn to slow US wine consumption

Growth projections for US wine consumption have slowed amid increasing economic instability – with sales of Australian wine slumping by 12.5% last year.

Wine consumption in the US increased 2.1% to 303.1 million nine-litre cases in 2010, according to the 2011 Wine Handbook, published by the Beverage Information Group.

Sales of domestically-produced wine rose 3% to 229.4m cases, but imports fell marginally to 73.6m cases.

The report predicts consumption continuing to rise to 321.9m cases over the next five years but Eric Schmidt, the Group’s manager of information services, admitted: ‘This is lower than my previous predictions.

‘This is due to the continued instability in the economy, with the current fluctuations in financial markets not making me more optimistic.’

In response to falling Australian sales, Schmidt told decanter.com that its grape glut and bulk shipping had ‘cheapened its image’.

And he said mixed consumer behaviour was difficult to assess. ‘We’re slowly seeing a return to higher-priced offerings, although the marked increase in domestic wine in large box format is indicative of consumers being more frugal with their disposable income.’

Written by Richard Woodard

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