CHICAGO -- Wine sales in the United Kingdom are thriving, having grown in value 45% from 1993 to 1998, according to Euromonitor Market Direction here.
Euromonitor presented its analysis of European trends and developments at the international wine and spirits market at the London Wine Fair in May.
The global market research group forecasts increased purchases of higher quality, more expensive wines worldwide, as consumers' tastes become more discriminating. "Millennium celebrations will provide a short-term boost in both value and volume terms, with the benefit to sparkling wines particularly strong," the report says.
Euromonitor found that the flourishing U.K. wine market reached a cash value of 4.3 billion pounds, but that U.K. consumers pay more for wine because of the high level of duty imposed. British consumers drink less than one-fourth of Italy's per-capita wine consumption, but spend almost as much as Italians do on wine.
Nearly 30% of the wine the United Kingdom imports comes from France, both in volume and value. However, France faces increasing competition from Australia, the fastest-growing exporter of wine to the United Kingdom. The United States and Argentina are also serious contenders for the interest of British consumers, who, Euromonitor notes, are willing to try wines from many countries.
Red wine sells best internationally, with growth peaking in Japan, where sales rocketed by 947% in unit volume and 429% in value during the same period. But sake was still favored in Japan, with 81% of sales value showing up in non-grape wine. Sake is fermented from rice.
Some expansion across key countries can be attributed to claims that moderate consumption of red wine reduces the risk of heart disease. In Spain, France and the United Kingdom, red wine still accounted for the largest sector in 1998.
Sparkling wine was next in France (20.6%) and Germany (36%), but consumers in Italy liked still white wine even better than red, and so did Americans. Value of white wine sales (38%) exceeded that of red (25%) last year in the United States.