Monday, September 1, 2008

French wine sales plummet in credit crunch

French wine is now focused towards the higher end of the market Photo: STEPHEN LOCK

Sales of cheap French wines are falling sharply worldwide as cash-strapped British and American consumers feel the pinch of the credit crunch.

Producers of cheap French plonk exported less wine in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2007.

A report released by the French export development agency showed that export volumes fell by 8.7 per cent in the six months to June as consumers say no to the much loved dinner time glass of red.

However, the value of French wine sent overseas increased by 8.2 per cent showing that consumer demand for French wine is now focused towards the higher end of the market as lower-quality European wines struggle to compete against exports from Australia, Chile and the United States.

The strong euro, which makes European wines more expensive for British and American consumers, is also affecting the lower end of the market.

"Contrary to popular belief, it is no longer the highest quality wines that are responsible for the bitter aftertaste of our exports," said the report by UbiFrance.

Continuing to sell well is the popular Bordeaux of 2005 while the biggest wines to suffer were France's vins de table and vins de pays, and bottles from the famous Champagne region which endured a drop in volume of 4.2 per cent.