Americans are number one when it comes to the consumption of wine. According to statistics released by the International Vine and Wine organization (OIV), the American love of the grape has pushed the French out of first place.
In 2013, US consumers purchased 29.1 million hectoliters of wine, a rise of 0.5 percent over 2012. During the same time period, French wine consumption fell nearly seven percent to 28.1 million hectoliters. The repositioning of the French into second place occurred because of a lack of statistical information from China and generational influences among American and French wine drinkers.
US wine drinkers still lag behind when it comes to their consumption per person. The French still maintain their number one status with the average French wine drinker enjoys almost 1.2 bottles a week, six times more than the average American. The overall downward wine consumption trends among in the French have Europe’s wine industries paying attention to the changes.
Jean-Marie Aurand, director general of OIV, said in countries such as France, Spain, and Italy, where people once and still do consume great quantities of wine, have changed their alcohol consumption habits. Over the years, citizens of these countries prefer quality over quantity. Competition for wine consumers also comes from producers of beer and hard liquor who use advertising to attract a younger demographic to their products.
Aurand added that US wine consumers are different from their French counterparts. Per capita, Americans start enjoying wine at a different level. For generations, the US has enjoyed beer and hard liquor. Now they want to acquire an air of sophistication with quality wines. Aurand blames the sharp decline in the French wine market comes from an exaggerated adjustment in worldwide statistical data.
What makes the US the number one consumers of wine derives from a lack of 2013 information from the Chinese government. In China, Aurand estimated the wine consumption there declined 3.8 percent to 16.8 million hectoliters. Over the years, the Chinese have stocked up on wine and are in the process of reducing the supply. The lack of accurate numbers affects statistical data for American and French wine drinkers.
The French are the third largest producer of wine, with Italy and Spain second. Between 2002 and 2011, wine consumption among the French per capita fell by 20 percent to 46.4 liters per year. Over the same period, American consumption rose to 9.1 liters per person or 17 percent.
Worldwide wine consumption fell by 1 percent to 239 million hectoliters in 2013. Aurand believes the years since the 2008 recession have led to the decrease along with updated alcoholic consumption from China. Aurand expects an increase in the worldwide consumption of wine for 2014.
Generational differences among the Americans and French need to be taken into account. In the past, Americans have preferred hard liquor and beer over wine. The opposite has been true for the French. With the advent of the internet and global advertising, French consumers of alcohol have moved away from wine and now show preferences for beer and mixed drinks. American drinkers by contrast have wanted to find more refined ways of enjoying adult beverages. With the purchasing power to enjoy better vintages of wine, Americans have become the number one consumers of the product.
By Brian T. Yates