Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Southern hemisphere wine gaining in global market

Southern hemisphere wine producers received a boost last week after a leading industry body announced an increase in the region's production and continued growth in the share of world wine exports.

The International Organisation for Vine and Wine (OIV) forecasts a growth in production to 51.4 million hectoliters (mhl), up 5 percent on 2007. They expect a rise in the southern hemisphere's share of world wine exports to almost 25 percent.

"In general we have seen an overall increase in production and there have been big developments in exports in all the southern countries," said Federico Castellucci, Director-General of the OIV.

Southern hemisphere producers are focusing on their key export markets -- Britain, the United States and Germany -- where they are steadily eroding the market share of traditional European producers like France and Spain.

Specialists say the growing success of New World wines is down to aggressive marketing, which targets a few popular brands. In 2005 Australia overtook France as Britain's leading supplier of wine, increasing its market share to 23 percent.

Chilean producers in New York said they would be aiming their wines at the U.S. palate and pocket, as wine consumption there is still rising unlike mainland Europe.

Despite strengthening their overseas presence, southern hemisphere producers have struggled to crack the French market. With the highest consumption per head and narrowly the largest consumption overall, France remains an elusive target.

An exporter of South African wines to France said the French market was difficult for New World wines to crack, but that there has been growing interest among young people.
In 2006, sales of foreign wines in French supermarkets were just two percent of the total volume sold, according to the latest statistics from French agricultural body Viniflhor.

Sylvain Albert, owner of Parisian restaurant and shop Le Tastemonde (, only sells foreign wines and has seen business grow steadily over the eight years since he began.

"France tends to import poor quality wines from abroad so they have a bad image here. If you choose good quality ones then there is no problem," Albert said.

Jessica Mead