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US wine consumption rises for 16th year

American consumers defied the downturn to buy more wine than ever last year, according to newly released figures.

The 0.8% increase in wine consumption to 297m cases was the 16th consecutive year of sales growth, according to the statistics revealed in the Beverage Information Group’s 2010 Wine Handbook.

Domestic wine sales, which grew by 1.8% to 222.7m cases, continued to out-perform imports, which were down 2.2% to 74.3m cases.

However, countries including Chile, New Zealand and Portugal continued to grow their sales, the handbook said.

‘As the country recovers from the recessionary environment, the wine industry continues to look positive,’ said Eric Schmidt, manager of information services for the Beverage Information Group.

‘We expect to see wine consumption increase to 310.7m cases by 2014.’

The handbook noted that consumers had become more discretionary in spending their disposable income since the downturn started, embracing trading down to cheaper wines and searching for bargains online.

So-called ‘millennials’ – the 70-80m consumers aged 21-33 – were particularly ‘bargain-savvy’, and were more willing to experiment and more likely to use electronic media to find the best deals, the handbook added.

Written by Richard Woodard

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