Home Wine Business Editorial OIV & IWSR: Consumption Trending Down, Quality Trending Up

OIV & IWSR: Consumption Trending Down, Quality Trending Up

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New studies released by international wine organizations confirm
consumer cutbacks and premiumization.

By Jeff Siegel

 

Two recent surveys of wine consumption and sales around the world mostly agreed on one thing: Consumers are both drinking less wine and buying less wine.

Which, of course, is not necessarily news, given the results of similar surveys over the past couple of years. The difference this time, say the studies, is that sales of higher priced wines continue to increase, which balances out some of the declines.

“I’d call [the results] glum, but not ‘red flag’ at this point,” says Christian Miller of Full Glass Research, who also serves as research director for Wine Market Council. “There’s still some noise in year-ago comparisons due to COVID-19 screwing up many data sources. However, it’s clear that the second wine boom, circa 1995-2015, is over.”

U.S. Consumer Confidence 

Both studies were released this spring, one by the IWSR consultancy and the other by the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) trade group. The former tracked consumer sentiment at the beginning of 2023 for all alcohol categories, while the latter surveyed wine trends for 2022. Briefly, each found that consumers are buying less alcohol and that overall consumption is down, thanks both to higher prices and more concern about alcohol’s health implications. However, premiumization remains important in the United States and, though slowing, is still seen as a key to the U.S. market. 

“Consumer confidence in the United States remains resilient in the face of inflation and cost of living pressures,” says Richard Halstead, chief operating office for consumer research, IWSR. “However, signs of fragility remain, especially in the on-premise, where cost is the major barrier to increased stated consumer spend. … premium consumption behavior in the United States continues, but is growing at a more moderate rate than previously.”

OIV Tracks Declines

The OIV study estimated that world wine production in 2022 should decline about 1% from 2021 (for a total of 258 millions of hectolitres, or mhl). There were bigger than expected harvests in Europe, despite the much-publicized drought and heat waves, while production was about average in the Southern Hemisphere. However, U.S. production fell 7%, one of the highest rates in the study. Perhaps most significantly, China’s wine production in 2022 was expected to drop 29% when compared to 2021 (it’s been declining for the last decade).

Meanwhile, 2022 consumption was expected to be around 232 mhl, an almost 1% drop from 2021. U.S. consumption recorded a 3% increase, which brought it back to pre-pandemic levels. This compared to a 2% decline for France and a 5% decline for Italy.

The study cited the Ukraine war, higher energy prices and supply chain disruptions for “significant increases” in wine prices for consumers. In particular, OIV Director General Pau Roca told the news conference announcing the study, the cost of boxes, labels and other supplies increased by double digits, forcing wine prices higher.

The OIV’s wine market internationalization index — which measures exports — stood at 46%. That means, on average in 2022, that one of every two bottles of wine consumed in the world crossed at least one border; in other words, 46% of the wine consumed in the world is imported. That’s a slight decline from a year ago, but still one of the highest stats on record.

“Starting in 2018, global wine consumption has decreased at a regular rate. … This downward trend was accentuated in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought a depressing effect on many large wine markets,” reads the study. “In 2021, the uplifting of restrictions pertaining to movement of people and goods and the revival of social gatherings and celebrations have, as anticipated, contributed to an increase in consumption in most countries around the world.”

Moderation Taking Over

Nevertheless, found the IWSR study, moderation is becoming increasingly popular.  Some of it is health based, but it’s also “a money-saving strategy. This supports the resilience of the premiumisation trend, with many consumers choosing to drink better quality less often, rather than having to down-trade.”

In the on-premise, the IWSR report found that demand is largely holding up in Europe and the Americas, with millennials and Gen Z driving on-premise visits. Still, in some markets, going out without drinking alcohol is a popular money-saving strategy, as is opting for cheaper beverage options, while “Netflix and takeout” still has “a strong pull in most markets.”

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Jeff Siegel

Jeff Siegel is an award-winning wine writer, as well as the co-founder and former president of Drink Local Wine, the first locavore wine movement. He has taught wine, beer, spirits, and beverage management at El Centro College and the Cordon Bleu in Dallas. He has written seven books, including “The Wine Curmudgeon’s Guide to Cheap Wine.”

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