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France: wine consumption continues to fall

Wine consumption in France continues on a steep decline while exports have seen a dramatic plunge in recent months.

According to statistics released by the French Ministry of Agriculture, French adults on average each consumed 43l of wine during 2008, representing the equivalent of one glass per day, down by four litres from 2007.

Wine consumption dropped across all social groups, most markedly among middle-income earners.

Meanwhile, exports over the eight-month period between August 2008 and March 2009 fell year-on-year by -8.4% in volume, down to 8.4m hectolitres, and by -14.6% in value.

The sharpest export drop was among Champagne and sparkling wines, down -16% in volume, and -21.1% in value.

Despite an overall increase in the cost of wine sold in France in 2008, up over 5% to an average retail price of €3.05 per litre, the average yearly amount spent per adult on wine actually fell.

Wine sales in supermarkets dropped in volume over the same period by 1.1%.

Rosé sales saw the only increase in market share in 2008.

The ministry report concluded the internal market declining trend for reds was ‘depressing and worrying’.

These overall figures, however, disguised widely disparate habits among age groups.

The biggest wine-drinkers were 50-65-year-olds, consuming twice the national average and almost five times more than the under 35s.

The latest figures show a huge difference between wine-drinking habits of today and 40 years ago.

During the 1960s, average yearly consumption was largely steady at 120 litres per adult, or three glasses per day.

Written by Graham Tearse in Paris

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