Food and drink

Wine consumption rises in Spain for first time in decades

But industry says it must target younger generations of drinkers to ensure future growth

The consumption of wine in Spain inched up in 2016 by somewhere between 2.5% and 4% to hit 9.8 million hectoliters, halting decades of declining demand according to new figures from the Spanish Wine Market Observatory (OeMv).

A wine tasting event.
A wine tasting event.MARIO RUIZ / EFE

This rise in consumption – based on sales – can be put down to Spain’s improving economic situation and a more mature and competitive industry, said OeMv director Rafael del Rey.

Spain is the world leader in wine experts, shipping 22.7 million hectoliters overseas in 2016

The director highlighted the increasing variety of wine on offer and a change in the image of the beverage in the country as well as improved branding and marketing by wine producers and regional wine organizations.

The small increase last year marks a turning point after a long period of decline. In the 1970s, average annual wine consumption in Spain was above 40 liters per head but this has since dropped off dramatically, hitting just 21 liters per head in 2014, according to Californian industry group the Wine Institute.

That means Spain is at the bottom of the rankings for wine consumption among producer counties put together by the Californian group, with experts saying Spanish wine consumption is far below what would be expected.

Which countries drink the most wine?

The Vatican, with an aging male population, has the highest wine consumption in the world according to the Wine Institute at 53.83 liters per head per year. Croatia and Slovenia are in second place (44 liters), followed by France (42.5), Portugal (41.7) and Italy (33). In the UK, the figure is 22 liters.

The 9.8 million hectoliters sold in Spain last year is far below the country’s average production of around 42 million hectoliters.

In response, the Spanish wine industry is now planning to launch a strategy aimed at boosting wine consumption in the country, with a special focus on attracting younger generations of drinkers.

The industry has also called on the government to back their product.

Spain is the world leader in wine exports, shipping 22.7 million hectoliters overseas in 2016 for total earnings of €2.64 billion. But the average price of the wine that is exported is only €1.18 per liter as more than 50% of all exports are of low-grade wine valued at less than €0.40 per liter.

English version by George Mills.

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