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Wine consumption barely rises in the US

Overall wine consumption in the US rose 0.9 percent in 2008 to 294.7 million cases, according to the Beverage Information Group's recently released 2009 Wine Handbook.

Although the growth rate has slowed slightly, this marks the 15th consecutive year of case gains. Due to the current recessionary environment, consumers have become more frugal with their purchases, trading down toward value-priced wines in both the on-and off-premise.

Changing demographic trends cited in the 2009 Wine Handbook are favourable for the wine industry. The 70 million people that make up the "Millennial" generation (age 21 to 30) are changing perceptions of wine. This generation is not as sophisticated about wine as preceding generations and is willing to experiment with wines at lower price points.

Another factor accounting for the rise in US wine consumption is the weakened dollar which has driven up prices of imported wine selections. This has triggered an increase in sales among domestic vintages that are priced more competitively.

"Imported wines dropped 1.8 %, while domestics rose 1.9% - a stark contrast to the recent trend when imported table wines fuelled not only the growth of that sector, but of the entire industry," said Eric Schmidt, manager of information services for the Beverage Information Group based in Norwalk, Connecticut.

In addition, continued association between moderate wine consumption and decreased risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke remains a key driver of wine's popularity among an increasingly health-conscious society.


1 September 2009 - James Graham