‘New world’ vineyards stealing a march on Europeans in fast-growing market

PARIS, Oct 10, 2006 (AFP) – Vineyards in the new world and even in China are stealing a march on traditionally dominant European producers in the race to slake the world’s fast-growing thirst for wine. From having a market share of just 1.6 percent 20 years ago, wines from countries like Chile, Australia and the United States now have a 25.5 percent slice of the 100 billion dollar global market, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).

The European Union’s five biggest producers — Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Portugal — have seen their proportion slump to 62.1 percent from 75 percent in the same period.

But this turning on its head of the industry is only just beginning as wine consumption rockets in countries like the United States, Britain and Germany — and in Asia where the rise of a middle class in fuelling a boom in wine consumption.

After seeing consumption halve between 1975 and 2004, France remains the biggest market, consuming 53 litres (14 US gallons) per capita every year, or 32.6 million hectolitres in total, ahead of Italy, the United States and Germany.

But this is soon to change, with the US set to be the world’s biggest wine market by 2008,