Recent statistics released by the Bordeaux Wine Bureau have revealed that the French are increasingly more likely to choose a pint of beer over a bottle of claret but sales have been boosted by Brits who cannot get enough of it.
The wine-producing country has seen its lowest sales of Bordeaux in 20 years in 2019, and stats show Frenchmen are either trying to drink less, not to drink at all, or are switching to beer.
Yet sales to the UK have increased by 15 percent just as producers start to worry about the outcome of Brexit.
With French people ever more likely to go for a lager instead of a claret, the President of the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wine (Conseil interprofessionnel du vin de Bordeaux; CIVB) – the Bordeaux Wine Bureau, Bernard Farges, is worried. He says: “We have lost a fifth of our volume in France in five years.”
Despite good export sales figures, only 56 percent of Bordeaux wines were drunk within France’s borders in 2019, which is 10 percent less than the year before.
The CIVB’s figures, released yesterday (Tuesday 10th March), also show that the future of Bordeaux’s international wine sales could be bleak, despite the market remaining relatively stable overall at 2 billion EUR (1.76 billion GBP).
Export sales to China, which represents roughly 25 percent of all Bordeaux wine sales, are dropping. They dropped by 17 percent to mainland China and by 25 percent to Hong Kong.
Farges says: “The Chinese market had already been at half mast since mid-2018, and social tensions in Hong Kong disturbed the region a little more, which is now hit by a health crisis of unprecedented magnitude.”
The trend began in 2018 and continued in 2019, with sales at 573 million EUR (504 million GBP), down 12 percent. According to Farges, the Chinese are increasingly favouring Australian and Chilean wines, which are exempt of tax.
But the USA and the UK are holding steady, with slight increases in sales in 2019, even though the French now have to worry about the impact of Brexit fort UK sales.
The USA is France’s second export market, but all is not well in the world of Bordeaux wine producers since US President Donald Trump imposed a 25-percent tax that has been hurting the Bordelais producers since mid-October.
This caused an 18-percent drop in the sales volume to the United States by the end of 2019, with a loss of value of 36 percent overall, even if the market grew by 5 percent over the course of the entire year – to 294 million EUR (258.7 million GBP).
The UK saw imports of claret increase by 15 percent to 260 million EUR (229 million GBP), a figure that is radically higher than the USA, if you take into account the sizes of both countries.
Farges says talked are underway in the industry to decrease production levels, to restore balance. He says: “We have large stocks, but not overwhelmingly so. They are important compared to our market, which has dropped to its lower level in twenty years.”
The CIVB was created in 1948 and as an interest group it represents nearly 10,000 Bordeaux wine producers.
It is headquartered in Bordeaux, the capital of the Gironde department in the south-western French region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
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