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France’s Wine Exports Strongly Rebound After Last Year’s Drop


France’s Wine Exports Strongly Rebound After Last Year’s Drop

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘France – Wine – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Wine exports from France are returning to pre-pandemic levels this year. Throughout January-September 2021, France’s supplies abroad reached $9.56B, increasing by +43% compared to the same period of 2020. Last year, the Covid-crisis hit the French wine trade, reducing exports by -9% y-o-y (based on USD values). Germany, the UK and the U.S. remain the major foreign buyers, accounting for 42% of total wine exports from France. The average wine export price dropped by -5.5% y-o-y to $7,026 per tonne in 2020. 

France’s Wine Exports by Country

From January to September 2021, France’s wine exports totaled $9.56B, exceeding by +43% the value of the same period in 2020. Last year, wine exports contracted to $10B (IndexBox estimates), dropping by -9% y-o-y. In physical terms, wine exports from France fell slightly to 1.4M tonnes, declining by -3.8% on the previous year’s figure.

Germany (232K tonnes), the UK (204K tonnes) and the U.S. (161K tonnes) were the main destinations of wine exports from France, with a combined 42% share of total exports. Belgium, the Netherlands, China, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and Poland lagged somewhat behind, accounting for a further 40%. Switzerland (+63.7% y-o-y) recorded the highest increase in purchases as compared to other countries.

In value terms, the largest markets for wine exported from France were the U.S. ($1.6B), the UK ($1.3B) and Germany ($832M), with a combined 38% share of total exports. These countries were followed by Belgium, Japan, China, Switzerland, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden and Poland, which accounted for a further 33%.

In 2020, the average wine export price amounted to $7,026 per tonne, dropping by -5.5% against the previous year. Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was Switzerland ($10,788 per tonne), while the average price for exports to Poland ($3,149 per tonne) was amongst the lowest. Last year, the most notable growth rate in terms of prices was recorded for supplies to China, while the prices for the other major destinations experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox Platform


Climate Change: The French Wine Disaster & Beyond

Complex supply chains around the world make countries dependent on others for essential items, including food and drink. When it is interrupted, the effects are felt globally. We’ve already experienced the turmoil that disrupted supply chains can have during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire issued a statement to the nation’s supermarkets urging them to stock French products.

There are a few instances other than COVID-19 where disasters have interrupted the supply chain, causing economic damage. Agriculture tends to take the biggest financial hits and losses during disasters such as extreme weather, which are becoming more frequent, intense, and complex. Between 2008 and 2018, agricultural disasters cost developing countries more than €908 billion, having a profound effect on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who were already struggling against large corporations.

Electrix, a producer of coffret électrique encastré for the food industry, takes a look at the French wine disaster and other events around the world that had an impact on food and drink.

The wine disaster

Unseasonal frost hit France this year, seeing a usually warm April suddenly struck by freezing temperatures and bitter frost. The initial record-warm early spring resulted in vines and fruit trees blooming earlier than they would usually, and they were then ruined by an unexpected bout of cold temperatures. Research has found that as the world’s temperature rises, the timing of seasons will change and become more severe.

Vineyards in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, and the Rhône Valley were affected and resorted to lighting thousands of fires and candles near the vines and trees in an attempt to keep them warm overnight. Sadly, many winemakers have reported a 100 percent loss on their yield.

French agriculture minister Julien Denormandie commented: “This is probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jean Castex pledged €1bn in aid to winemakers and farmers. It may take years for some vineyards to recover.

France’s wine industry has already been dealing with the effects of COVID-19 and decreased demand from restaurant orders, as well as previously battling with Donald Trump’s tariffs on key French goods, including wine and cheese, which resulted in a near 14 percent drop in French wine and spirits exports last year. Furthermore, due to the effects of climate change, the flavors of wine will likely change or, in some cases, disappear forever. Merlot, for example, could become a thing of the past due to the grapes used in that particular wine being less resilient to changing weather patterns.

Thirsty crops exhausting groundwater

Rice is the primary source of food for more than three billion people every day and is helping prevent the world’s food crisis from getting worse. Sadly, there is a risk of rising food insecurity for such a staple food.

India is experiencing both a water and agricultural crisis that has been developing for decades. Rice is one of the thirstiest crops that exist – farmers use 15,000 liters of water on average to grow one kilogram of paddy (rice plant). Rice is draining northern India’s Punjab of its groundwater, with the ground expected to be exhausted by 2039 and become comparable to a desert. A fifth of the world’s population lives in India, who only have four percent of global water while simultaneously being the largest user of it with 90 percent of their water used for agriculture.

India isn’t the only country struggling to grow rice due to a lack of water – countries in Southeast Asia such as China are facing the same challenge. Climate change is making extreme weather like flooding and droughts happen more regularly, making water difficult to source. Scientists are looking to develop new strains of rice that require less water and are more resilient to drought and climate change.  Plus, water technologists in New Delhi are looking to design water management techniques that use no more than 600 liters of water for one kg of paddy.

Increased breeding of rodents in Australia

Australia has faced the brunt of climate change, ranging from bushfires that devastated 27.2 million acres of land to damaged food and crops due to the largest plague of mice ever seen. Australian farmers are used to a mouse plague every ten years or so; however, with the planet warming up, they could become more regular with more mice than ever. The temperatures create the perfect breeding ground for the rodents, which then go on to destroy crops.

Farmers are even forced to burn their crops which have been infested with mice and mice urine.

A disaster-resilient future is possible if we develop sustainable agriculture. Preparing for risk management can help in reducing agriculture’s vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change.




Robust Increase in Chinese Exports Buoys Global Grape Market

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Grapes – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Increased grape production in China buoyed the global market against a fall in the grape crop in India, the EU and Russia, which enables the global production in 2020 to remain consistent with 2019 data. The export potential of Chinese and Australian grapes has improved due to the progress achieved in cultivation methods and the use of particularly fertile varieties of grape. 

Key Trends and Insights

Global grape production stood at 76.6М tonnes (IndexBox estimates) in 2020, remaining consistent with 2019 figures. According to USDA data, poor weather conditions caused a decline in production in India (125К tonnes), Turkey (-50К tonnes), the EU (-170К tonnes), and Russia (-23К tonnes). The fall in production seen in these countries was offset by increased grape output in China (+400К tonnes), enabling a further surge in exports. The hot summer of 2020 also secured a stable grape harvest in the USA (+114К tonnes), Egypt (+35К tonnes) and Peru (+12К tonnes). Production remained unchanged against 2019 in Brazil, Uzbekistan and Chili.

China has indicated a pronounced growth in grape exports in recent years, largely as a result of the advances in cultivation technology and improvements in product quality. From 2014 to 2020, Chinese grape exports surged threefold: from 126К tonnes to 420К tonnes . Australian exports almost doubled over the same period: from 86.4К tonnes to 163К tonnes.

Expanding demand from the EU and Asian markets, against enhanced incomes and a rise in population, are set to drive the further growth of the global grape market. EU imports continued to increase to 1654К tonnes in 2020, despite the pandemic.

The second half of 2020 signaled a recovery in demand from the wine industry, as the quarantine measures were more or less lifted. The wine market expansion, driven by e-commerce development and high investments, promises strong demand for grapes in the coming years.

China to Lead in the Grape Consumption while the U.S. to Remain the Key Exporter

The countries with the highest volumes of grape consumption in 2019 were China (14M tonnes), Italy (7.5M tonnes) and the U.S. (6.5M tonnes), together comprising 37% of global consumption.

From 2012 to 2019, the biggest increases were in China, while grape consumption for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest grape markets worldwide were China ($22.1B), the U.S. ($14.8B) and France ($13B), with a combined 37% share of the global market.

The countries with the highest levels of grape per capita consumption in 2019 were Italy (126 kg per person), Spain (120 kg per person) and Chile (104 kg per person).

In 2019, the U.S. (660K tonnes), followed by the Netherlands (376K tonnes), Germany (322K tonnes), the UK (275K tonnes), Russia (272K tonnes), Hong Kong SAR (240K tonnes) and China (239K tonnes) represented the key importers of grapes, together committing 53% of total imports. The following importers – Canada (187K tonnes), Thailand (130K tonnes), Poland (117K tonnes), France (116K tonnes), Indonesia (114K tonnes) and Pakistan (98K tonnes) – together made up 17% of total imports.

In value terms, the largest grape importing markets worldwide were the U.S. ($1.3B), Germany ($682M) and the Netherlands ($643M), together accounting for 30% of global imports. China, the UK, Hong Kong SAR, Canada, Thailand, Indonesia, Russia, France, Poland and Pakistan lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 40%.

The average grape import price stood at $1,911 per tonne in 2019, standing approx. at the previous year. In general, the import price, however, recorded a relatively flat trend pattern. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2017 an increase of 4.3% against the previous year. Over the period under review, average import prices hit record highs at $2,048 per tonne in 2013; however, from 2014 to 2019, import prices remained at a lower figure.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform



Tipsy trade policy

The United States imported $6.5 billion worth of wine in 2018, equal to 17 percent of total wine imports worldwide. We like our Rioja from Spain, Bordeaux from France, and Italian Vernaccia as much as our California counterparts.

Instead of toasting, American wine importers — and the many businesses that rely on imported wine, from distributors to wine shop owners to restaurateurs — are protesting. Why? Because the administration was seriously considering raising tariffs to 100 percent on a range of imported Euro

pean products, including French, German and Spanish wine.

Imported European wines are already more expensive due to a 25 percent the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) imposed in October 2019. The wine industry is concerned that raising the tariff to 100 percent will cost thousands of jobs as the higher prices on European wines knock out a large chunk of the industry’s wholesale and consumer sales.

A drunken trade brawl

European wine is but a pawn in a decades old trade dispute. In October, the World Trade Organization (WTO) found that Airbus, a European aerospace corporation and Boeing’s big rival, had illegally received over $22 billion in state-sanctioned subsidies. The WTO authorized the United States to apply retaliatory tariffs on as much as $7.5 billion worth of European exports each year until the subsidies are removed.

Under U.S. law, the USTR must review and possibly revise (maybe increase) or “rotate” the list of products subject to tariffs after 120 days, known as “carousel retaliation,” to ensure the tariffs are causing enough pain to induce a negotiated resolution.

Even if wine were spared a tariff increase in the aircraft case, a new front has opened in this trade brawl. In July last year, France announced its Digital Services Tax, a tax of three percent on revenues generated in France by a digital company, independent of where that company was established. The tax appears targeted at American companies like Google and Facebook and was denounced by President Trump. When it became clear France had no intention of backing down, the U.S. administration threatened tariffs of up to 100 percent on popular European imports — including wine.

Value of US wine imports

Friends don’t let friends retaliate

The U.S. wine industry is getting whiplash from the prospects of cross-retaliation in this trade war. The Europeans are also awaiting a WTO verdict on their case against Boeing subsidies that could authorize tariffs on U.S. imports. One-third of total U.S. wine exports, some $469 million worth, come from California shipping wine to the European Union, making it a prime target for retaliatory tariffs. The European Union could also decide to counter with tariffs in protest of the U.S. response to France’s digital tax.

Wine tariffs will not age well

An attack on wine strikes at the hearts of many. French and Italian wines alone account for one-third of the $70-billion U.S. wine market. The very biggest wine distributors may be able to afford to absorb the cost to remain competitive, but smaller importers and distributors will have a much harder time. The higher costs are passed along to distributors, drivers, specialty retailers, supermarkets and hotels, hitting everyone from the specialist Italian wine store to the French bistro that makes its margin on alcohol sales to the forklift operator in the warehouse. Wine sales also generate local and state tax revenue, particularly in states like Mississippi and Pennsylvania where the Liquor Control Board is the main wine buyer and seller.

In January, House Small Business Committee Chair Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY) and eight Committee Democrats sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer voicing their fears about the tariffs’ impact on small businesses in the United States. They project that even the original 25 percent tariff could cost as many as 12,000 American jobs. A 100 percent tariff could risk 78,000 American jobs.

The 106 bipartisan members of the Congressional Wine Caucus also got together in January to send their own letter to Lighthizer, urging him to leave wine out of the sanctions, emphasizing the potentially crippling effects on America’s $220 billion wine economy.

Risk to wine chain of 100% tariff

Reason to celebrate?

Last week, the USTR made a sobering decision not to raise tariffs on imported European wines as part of the carousel review.

The entire industry is breathing a small sigh of relief, even producers in California. They would be unlikely to benefit significantly from the loss of competition from European wines. Due to laws on provenance, it is literally impossible to produce Chablis or Champagne anywhere else but France, for example. And compared to numerous competitors across the world, American producers have higher labor costs and limited supplies that could not fill the giant hole in the U.S. market left by European wines. Instead it seems likely that lower-cost South African and South American wine would be the beneficiaries as the more economical switch. Tariffs are a lose-lose for the U.S. industry.

In Vino Veritas

The tariffs are not an end unto themselves. They are meant to raise the stakes and bring the parties to the negotiating table. European trade officials appear to be contemplating measures to mitigate the trade row. Officials in Washington state appear to be reviewing its tax incentives to Boeing. The United States is seeking an international resolution to the question of digital taxes and French economy minister Bruno LeMaire seems more interested to resolve the digital tax dispute with President Trump.

Meanwhile, the U.S. wine industry cannot raise a glass. They must continue to live with the consequences of the 25 percent tariff, which they say could cost as much as $1.6 billion in lost wages throughout the distribution chain.

As for American wine lovers, another terrible reality sets in. After the 25 percent tariff went into effect in November, U.S. wine imports from Europe fell by half over previous months. Over the same period, China’s imports of French wine rose 26 percent. If European winemakers can shift their export focus, they might avoid the U.S. tariff pain and grow their market share in emerging economies while U.S. wine drinkers are left to abstain or drown their sorrow over higher prices.

Let’s all hope the issue is resolved and tariffs removed long before Beaujolais Nouveau Day in November.


Alice Calder

Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on Republished with permission.