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Global wine consumption falls to its lowest level since 1996, with production down 10%



World wine consumption dropped to its lowest level since 1996 last year, with production down 10 per cent, after the world's worst grape harvest in 62 years, a new report has revealed.

World wine consumption fell last year to the lowest level since 1996, with production falling 10 percent, following the world’s worst grape harvest in 62 years, a new report shows.

While rising costs of living have put a dent in consumption trends, experts from the Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), which monitors trade, blamed “extreme” climate changes for the overall slump.

“Extreme environmental conditions,” including droughts, fires and other climate issues, were the driving force behind the trend and the biggest threat to the sector, according to the organization.

Major wine producers Australia and Italy suffered the most, with productivity declines of 26 and 23 percent respectively.

More bad news for winemakers: Customers drank three percent less wine in 2023, the France-based intergovernmental body said.

Director John Barker highlighted “drought, extreme heat and fires, as well as heavy rains causing flooding and fungal diseases in the major wine-producing regions of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.”

Although he said climate issues were not solely responsible for the drastic decline, “the main challenge facing the sector is climate change.

“We know that the grapevine, as a long-lived plant grown in often vulnerable areas, is strongly affected by climate change,” he added.

France has broken the downward harvest trend, with an increase of four percent, making it by far the largest wine producer in the world.

Spain lost more than a fifth of its production. The harvests in Chile and South Africa fell by more than 10 percent.

However, wine consumption last year was at its lowest level since 1996, confirming a decline over the past five years, according to the figures.

This trend is partly due to price increases due to inflation and a sharp decline in wine consumption in China – a quarter less – due to the economic slowdown.

The Portuguese, French and Italians remain the world’s biggest wine drinkers per capita.

Barker said the underlying decline in consumption is “driven by demographic and lifestyle changes. But given the very complicated influences on global demand at the moment, it is difficult to say whether the decline will continue.

“What is clear is that inflation is the dominant factor affecting demand in 2023,” he said.

Last month it was announced that champagne sales had fallen due to the cost of living crisis and the availability of cheaper alternatives.

Waitrose reported that sales of crémant have overtaken Spanish effervescent cava. Over a three-month period, crémant sales increased by 51 percent compared to the same period last year.

Prosecco sales also fell by five percent in 2019, costing the market around £100 million, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

Land devoted to growing grapes for food or wine fell for the third consecutive year to 7.2 million hectares (17.7 million acres).

But India became one of the world’s top ten grape producers for the first time, with a three percent increase in the size of its vineyards.

France, however, has scaled back its vineyards slightly, with the government paying winemakers to clear vines or distill their grapes.

The collapse of Italy’s harvest to its lowest level since 1950 does not necessarily mean a similar contraction will occur there, Barker said.

Between flooding and hailstones and humid weather that caused mildew in the center and south of the country, the fall was “clearly linked to meteorological conditions,” he said.

Climate change was recently implicated as a cause of the severe flooding that derailed Dubai this month.

Last week, between 10% and 40% more rain fell in one day than would have fallen in a world without the 1.2 degrees Celsius warming caused by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas since the middle of the 19th century. World Weather Attribution said Thursday in a flash study that is too new to be peer-reviewed.

At least one place saw a record 11 inches (28.6 centimeters) of rain fall in just 24 hours, more than twice the annual average, paralyzing the usually bustling city of skyscrapers in a desert.

“It’s not such a clear fingerprint, but we have a lot of other indirect evidence, other evidence that tells us that we are seeing this increase,” says climate scientist Friederike Otto of the Imperial College of London, who is coordinating the attribution research team.

‘It’s what we expect from physics. It’s what we expect from other studies done in this area, from other studies around the world, and there’s nothing else going on that could explain this increase.”

Last summer, Greece was ravaged by a number of forest fires.

In July, many British tourists were stuck on the island of Rhodes unable to return home as officials tried to evacuate those affected.

Nearly 17,770 hectares (more than 43,000 acres) were destroyed in ten days in the south of the holiday island in the southeastern Aegean Sea.

It came as a heatwave swept across Europe, leading to drier conditions that made it easier for fires to spread.

MailOnline spoke to experts, who explained that the scorching temperatures are caused by three key factors: El Niño, a stationary high-pressure system also known as an anticyclone, and climate change.

Professor Stefan Doerr, director of the Center for Wildfire Research at Swansea University, said: ‘Any ignition could quickly develop into a fast-moving wildfire.

“These could include faulty power lines, small deliberate fires to burn debris that get out of control, sparks from moving machinery or construction activities or arson.

‘Focusing mainly on ignition sources diverts attention from the main problems: more flammable landscapes due to inadequate vegetation management and more extreme weather due to climate change.’

In August, the beaches around Athens were deserted as firefighters and water bombing planes tried to tackle the brutal forest fires threatening the south.

Once again, meteorologists cited hot and dry conditions as increasing fire risk.