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US wine market: value falls, volume rises

Americans are buying cheaper wine, as sales by value in the US fell for the first time in 15 years.

However volumes climbed in 2008 – up 0.9% to 317m cases – indicating that recession-hit consumers are trading down to cheaper wine rather than forgoing it altogether.

According to research by Gomberg-Fredrikson & Associates on behalf of the Wine Institute of California, the US wine market was worth US$30bn (£20bn) in 2008 – 1.3% less than in 2007. The last time the market fell in value was in 1993, during the last recession.

‘Consumers are changing their buying patterns by ratcheting down their everyday wine purchases to lower price-points, but splurge on higher-priced wines at times because they view wine as an affordable luxury,’ said Jon Fredrikson of Gomberg-Fredrikson & Associates.

The impact of the recession has been varied and complex, with restaurant volumes down about 10%, and distributors reducing inventories to minimise investment.

Sales of Champagne fell by 3% and imported sparkling wine, by 8% – suggesting Americans are shunning foreign fizz in favour of domestic sparkling wine, sales of which were up 1%.

Written by Richard Woodard

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