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ACs make it difficult for French to compete

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Tim Atkin

FRANCE'S appellation laws are making it difficult for its producers to compete with the rest of the world, according to Robert Beynat, chief executive of Vinexpo. "The law is not right," he told Harpers. "It is difficult to plant vineyards in France. Bordeaux could sell 20% more wine than it produces, but it is not allowed to expand production." Beynat (right) was speaking in London at the launch of "The State of the World Wine and Spirits Market", an international survey commissioned by Vinexpo from Vertume International. The findings, published to coincide with the 11th Vinexpo in June, highlighted an increase in world production of 18.3% between 1994 and 1999. The major sustained increases were in Australia (+49.1%), North America (+40.5%) and South Africa (+40.5%). The only countries where production decreased were Argentina (-12.6%) and Italy (-1.54%). The study predicts that production will grow to 282 million hl by 2005. Worldwide consumption increased by 8.1% between 1994 and 1999 to 188.42 million hl. This was described by Dominique Hriard Dubreuil, president of Vinexpo, as an "optimistic trend", although it means that the world is still producing far more wine than it can drink. In the UK, per capita consumption rose by 22.9% to 19.3 litres. The other significant findings concerned distribution channels. Not surprisingly, major multiples have increased their market share in every significant market. In the UK, their share of wine and spirits distribution now stands at 71%. Only France (77%) and Belgium (83%) have higher figures. The share of high-street independents has fallen from 27% to 16%, according to the report. "There has been a revolution," said Beynat. Vinexpo itself expects to receive 55,000 visitors from 120 countries and 2,400 exhibitors from 40 countries this year. Beynat reported growing demand from exhibitors. "We are over-subscribed by 10,000m2 of space." The only area that has not proved popular is the "Internet Alley". Vinexpo wrote to 30 Internet companies, but so far only eight of the 12 allocated spaces have been taken. Beynat also announced the first Vinexpo Americas, which will be held in New York between 22 and 24 October 2002 at the Jacob K Javits Center. The plan is to hold the fair every two years in the same year as Vinexpo Asia-Pacific in Tokyo. l For copies of The State of the World Wine and Spirits Market, priced at 200, contact Vinexpo on 0033 5 56 56 00 22 or e-mail: