According to French government statistics, households in France drank almost 10 percent less wine last year than in 2007. Exports by French vintners sank 15 percent by volume and almost 30 percent by value in the first quarter of 2009. “It’s a phenomenon of the current economic situation, so we need to be prudent and not sound the alarm,” said Xavier de Volontat, who heads an association of French vintners.
“We’ll have to be prudent vis-a-vis our members in the months to come. It’s true that they’re being patient, but they have to be able to get by economically.”
France still is a nation of wine-lovers with 85 percent of French households having bought at least one bottle last year (compare those statistics to our Indian ones!) and the country is still the world’s top producer. But still the average household bought just 43 litres in 2008 down from 47 in 2007. Keep in mind that France with a population of 65 million is still a large country by European standards.
Experts blame the drop in consumption primarily on the global economic downturn. Just as we here in India blame the drop in sales. However, other data from the French government shows that spending by households in general has risen leading many to believe that there are deeper issues at play. Namely, that the French love affair with wine is not what it once was. People are simply choosing to drink less. In 1960, the average French adult drank almost 175 liters of wine per year — more than four times as much as the average for an entire household in 2008.
Some say that an ad campaign which ran through the 70s and 80s on the slogan ‘un verre, cela va ; deux verres, bonjour les dégâts’ – ‘one glass you’ll manage, two glasses, hello damage’ really hurt the cause. Others believe that the younger generation is moving towards stronger spirits
Read the coverage in the Associated Press.