Britain set to top wine import league by 2012

Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:40am EST
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By Marcel Michelson

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Dump the image of Britain as a nation of beer and gin drinkers and raise a glass to a new record as the United Kingdom is set to become the world number one consumer country for imported wines by 2012.

The French, however, are world champions in drinking whisky while in Japan people are giving up sake for wine and joining the Chinese and Russians as fastest growing wine consumers.

"Wine consumption in the world will continue to rise over the 2008-2012 period to 2.8 billion cases of nine liters," said Robert Beynat, chief executive and co-founder of the Vinexpo annual professional fair of the wine and spirits industry.

Vinexpo will be held on June 21 to 25 in Bordeaux.

Beynat on Tuesday presented the results of a study made for Vinexpo by the International Wine and Spirits Record consultancy which shows that between 2008 and 2012, the consumption of wine in the world will rise by 6 percent.

Still wines will rise 5.5 percent to some 2.6 billion cases of nine liters (or 12 standard bottles) while those of sparkling wines such as champagne, cava or spumante will grow by 12 percent to 219 million cases.

Production will remain bigger than that with an expected 7.45 percent rise to 3.17 billion cases in the 2008 to 2012 period after a decline of 6.93 percent between 2003 and 2007.

This is partly due to an increase in production in emerging countries, such as China.   Continued...

<p>A wine selector tastes red wine from the latest vintage of Vinzavod Asenovgrad, some 170km (106 miles) east of the capital Sofia in this November 17, 2008 photo. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov</p>