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French wine market to shrink further, but organics surge: report

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Sales of French wines made with organically grown grapes are set to double between now and 2022, even as the downward trend for overall wine consumption appears firmly in place, an industry research group reported Friday.

[PARIS] Sales of French wines made with organically grown grapes are set to double between now and 2022, even as the downward trend for overall wine consumption appears firmly in place, an industry research group reported Friday.

Sales from vineyards which have quit using chemical pesticides to protect against pests and mould made up just 3.7 per cent of the French market last year, with nearly 9.3 million 12-bottle cases sold, Britain's IWSR Drinks Market Analysis group said.

But that was more than twice the 4.6 million cases sold in 2012, and surging demand is expected to propel sales to 17.3 million cases by 2022.

And organic vineyards are able to command higher prices from consumers, with an average price 6.14 euros (S$9.62) a bottle, around 33 per cent above the 4.62 euros for conventional wines.

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Organic wine revenues "will soon exceed one billion euros a year" in France, according to IWSR, which has been analysing the market since 1973.

The outlook reflects a growing global taste for organics, with 56 million cases sold worldwide last year, mainly in Europe, representing average annual growth of 14.1 per cent since 2012.

French organic sales are expected to set the pace through 2022, with 14 per cent annual growth compared with 9.2 per cent globally.

By contrast, conventional French wine sales, excluding champagne and other sparkling wines, fell to 241 million cases last year from 267 million in 2012.

"Several studies have shown that there are fewer and fewer people who drink wine twice a day, more and more who don't drink at all, and most significantly, more occasional drinkers," IWSR's head of research Jose Luis Hermoso said.

Demand is forecast to slump further, with sales of 208 million cases expected for 2022, the IWSR said.

"But people are drinking better quality wines," Mr Hermoso said.

"Young people, millennials, are drinking less but often better wines than their elders. And organic wine fits into this category," he said.

The report was commissioned by the French organic wine association Sudvinbio.

AFP