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Published:  23 July, 2008

Ex-Sainsbury's wine supremo Allan Cheesman has urged European wine associations to put the consumer first'. Speaking on behalf of the Wine and Spirit Association (WSA) and the European Federation of Wine and Spirit Importers (EFWSID) at a recent seminar held by the Comit Gnral de la Coopration Agricole de L'Ue (COGECA), Comit Europen des Entreprises Vins (CEV) and the EFWSID, Cheesman argued that the consumer will end up deciding the future of European wine, and that a comprehensive analysis of the European regime with the consumer as the main focus is essential. The New World already has the advantage of not being tied to European wine policy and is able to innovate with grapes, styles and technology in a way that is impossible in the Old World. In turn, this means it is far easier for New World countries to produce wines which fit specific consumer demands,' said Cheesman. We must take a step back and look at what the consumer really wants rather than what suits the producer. Marketing, branding and consumer-friendly labelling all need to be brought up to date to meet market demand. Of course, there are wonderful wines coming out of Europe, but they are having to compete with the New World with the restrictive Common Wine Policy holding them back,' he added. Quentin Rappoport, current director of EFWSID (and director of the WSA), said: It was encouraging that other organisations representing European interests are all now in agreement that there are many challenges facing all aspects of the European trade, and that steps need to be taken to draw up a co-ordinated strategy for the European wine regime, taking the consumer into account.' The chef de cabinet of the Agricultural Commission, Franz Fischler, welcomed the seminar. Working parties have been proposed to develop ideas for moving forward, and the results will be presented to the European Commission in time for a mid-term review of the Wine Policy later this year. EFWSID represents importers and distributors in 11 European countries, and is currently under the guidance of new president Guy Tapernoux, of Bacardi Martini (Belgium).