Europe (EU28) represents 60% of the world’s wine production, with three dominant countries, namely Italy, France and Spain. Faced with wine consumption levels that have dropped off in Europe, these three countries have adopted different strategies to effectively compete with new wine-producing countries and target the booming Chinese market. Read on.
Production: Europe’s world-leading trio. According to statistics provided by the OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine), three European countries stand atop the global wine production podium: Italy, France and Spain. These three countries alone represent 48% of the world’s production. In 2015, Italy became the world’s leading wine producer, with 48.9 million hectolitres out of a total 276 million hectolitres. France came in second (47.4 million hectolitres), followed by Spain (36.6 million hectolitres). Behind this European trio, the world’s fourth biggest wine producer was the United States (22.1 million hectolitres), followed by Argentina (13.4 million hectolitres) and Chile, with its highest ever production of 12.9 million hectolitres in 2015.
Italy, France, Spain: 3 different positionings. Faced with declining wine consumption levels in Europe, and the prospect of Asia becoming the world’s biggest consumer, Europe’s big three have defined their own respective strategies, as explained by French insurance company Coface in a study entitled “In front of the globalisation of the wine market, Europe bends but does not break”.
France’s strategy is to create value with smaller harvested areas and production increasingly oriented towards quality. Conversely, Spain has adopted a policy of increased volumes via bigger harvested areas, with production oriented towards mid and low-end products. Italy’s strategy, meanwhile, lies midway between those of France and Spain. For Coface, quality-oriented production appears to be the best strategy to take on the competition of “new world” wine producers such as South Africa, Australia, the US and Chile.
Spain is the French market’s leading supplier. Trade flows between European countries reveal Spain’s growing weight on the French market, to the detriment of Italy. According to a report by agricultural office FranceAgriMer which takes stock of foreign trade in wine in 2015, wine imports on the French market are largely dominated by Spain, with a market share of 75% in 2015. Spain is especially present for bulk wines without any indications of geographical origin or grape variety. Spain as the country of origin thus represents 35% of bottled wine imported by France in 2015, while Portugal accounts for 25%, and Italy 21%. These figures are corroborated by Europages’ statistics for online searches run from France, where Spain is by far the leading country for searches (see our interactive map).
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