16 January 2007, 16:34 PM
  • The UK wine market will grow so much over the next three years that British wine drinkers will be spending more on wine than any other European country, a new study has revealed.

The research, conducted for Vinexpo, the world’s biggest wine and spirits fair, which will be held in Bordeaux in June, shows that between 2001 and 2005 UK wine sales at retail prices grew by 25% to over £4.9bn. The study also forecasts that by 2010, retail sales in the UK will reach almost £5.5bn, making the UK the largest retail wine market in Europe. The US remains the largest retail wine market in the world.

According to the report, the growth in UK retail value is a long-term trend that can be explained both by rises in the amount of wine drunk and by the higher average price of a bottle of wine in the UK of £3.11 - more than in most European countries.

In 2005, British wine drinkers consumed nearly 1.7bn bottles of wine. This is equivalent to nearly 27 litres per person of legal drinking age per year, roughly the same as Australia (28.3 litres) or Holland (28.6 litres), but a long way behind Denmark (38.3 litres) and Germany (36.6). Our annual average wine consumption will grow by 3.7% between 2001 and 2010, which is three and a half times faster than the growth in world consumption.

Despite this, British wine drinkers will still drink less wine in total in 2010 than the world’s top four wine drinking countries: France, Italy, the US and Germany.

However, British wine drinkers are also opting to pay more for their wine. Sales of bottles priced at more than £2.90 accounted for nearly half of volume in 2005, a rise of 40% since 2001, while bottles priced at less than £2.90 grew at only 12%. This is in line with the overall premiumisation trend influencing sales across the food and drink sector in the UK.

Red wine accounted for just over half of all wine purchased in 2005 (nearly 53%) with consumption increasing by more than 35% between 2001 and 2005. The 1980s favourite, rosé wine, has witnessed a comeback with rapid growth of more than 63% in the same period and consumption of rosés forecast to rise by 25% by 2010. Sales of white wine are expected to remain static.

It seems Brits now prefer Australian (New World) wines to French plonk. Between 2001 and 2005 the volume of French imports fell by 7.58% while imports of Australian wines rose by 51.7%. At the same time imports of wine from the US more than doubled, while those from South Africa rose by more than 50%.

Originally published by www.foodanddrinktowers.com