Record Global Wine Harvest In 2018, Stable Consumption

Food & Drink

2018 was a good year for wine. Wine production reached a record volume of 293 million hectolitres globally, recovering from a very small production in 2017. Europe is still by far the dominant producer with close to 70% of the total. The leading countries are Italy, France, Spain and the USA. The global vineyard surface area did not change with Spain having the biggest plantings, followed by China and France. World wine consumption was stable in 2018, after having grown significantly since the early 2000s. The biggest markets are the USA, France, Italy and Germany. China seems to mark a pause, both wine production and consumption declined in 2018.

The world’s authority on wine statistics is the OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine), who collects and collates information about wine from all over the world. Director general, Pau Roca, has just presented the status of wine in 2018.

Pau Roca,Director General of the OIV, copyright BKWine Photography

BKWine Photography

2018 was a very good year. World wine production in 2018, excluding must and juice, was a record harvest of 292.3 million hectolitres. This is the biggest wine harvest in 15 years, since 2004/2005. It is a very big increase of 42.5 M hl from 2017. However, 2017 was the smallest harvest recorded in an even longer time, due mainly to weather issues in Europe that led to much reduced yields.

World Wine Production 2018, source: OIV

OIV

The three biggest wine producers, Italy, France and Spain all made big harvests, each of them increased the production with between 22% and 26%. Also, most other countries in Europe had harvests that were significantly bigger than in 2017.

In a longer perspective, wine production is stable, at around 270 million hectolitres.

Europe is still the largest wine producing continent, by quite far. The three biggest wine producers in the world, and in Europe, Italy, France and Spain, together account for 51% of world wine production. Half of all wine is made by these three countries!

Watch the full press conference with Director General Pau Roca, in French:

In total, the European Union produced 181.9 M hl, which is then 62% of the world total. But it is a declining share. One reason for this is, of course, the very restrictive regulations in Europe. It is much easier to plant new vineyards, if one can find a demand, in countries outside of Europe.

Take then the five countries following the top three in 2018: in falling order, USA, Argentina, Chile, Australia, and German. They account for 25% of world production, a quarter of world wine come from the top four “New World” countries, plus German. Without Germany, the four New World countries have a still honourable 22% of world wine production in 2018.

The USA is still solidly the fourth biggest wine producing country with 23.9 M hl, which is a small increase.

World wine production by country 2018, source: OIV

OIV

World vineyard surface area remains unchanged at 7.4 million hectares. There has been a steady decline in the surface area planted with vines since 2003 when it reached just over 7.8 M ha. Spain is the biggest country with 969 thousand hectares (k ha), followed by China, 875 k ha, France, 789 k ha, and Italy, 702 k ha. These numbers concern the area planted with vines, producing grapes, but grapes that are used for any purpose, not only wine.

Most of Europe is stable, with a basically unchanged vineyard surface: Spain, France, Romania, Greece, Germany and Switzerland.

Outside of Europe there are two significant growth countries: China, that continues to grow and solidify its position as the world’s second-biggest grape grower (but little made into wine), reaching 875 k ha (+1.2%), and Mexico that grew with 1.7% to 34 k ha (the same size as Champagne). Also, New Zealand continues to grow, up 0.6% to 39 k ha.

World vineyard surface 2018, source: OIV

OIV

World wine consumption is stable and estimated at 246 million hectolitres. In the early 2000s, global wine consumption increased significantly and reached a peak in 2007-2008. Since 2009 consumption has been relatively stable. It should be noted that “wine consumption” is in most cases difficult to know and numbers are approximate.

It is now for the 8th year in a row (since 2011) that the USA is the biggest market for wine, the country with the biggest wine consumption, 33 million hectolitres, even increasing with 1.1% on 2017. The following two names on the top list are as expected France (26 M hl, -0.7%) and Italy (22.4 M hl, -0.9%), followed by Germany (20 M hl, +1.3%).

The world’s 5th biggest wine consumer/market is China, which only reaches 18 M hl, a decline with -6.6%! Chinese wine consumption has increased dramatically since the beginning of the century, but not in 2018. If this is a blip or a change of the trend remains to be seen.

The five biggest consumers, USA, France, Italy, Germany and China, together represent half of the world consumption (49%).

Number 6 is also a market in decline, Great Britain (12.4 M hl, -2.6%). Most other European countries show positive numbers, even the ones that have had a long-term decline: Russia (+6.9%), Spain (+1.8%), Portugal (+5.4%), Romania (+8.7%), Netherlands (a meagre 0.7%), Switzerland (+2.9%), and Hungary (+3.9%).

There are disappointing numbers in Sweden and Belgium, which are stagnant, and even worse in Austria (-2.6%) and Greece (-8.7%).

World wine consumption 2018, source: OIV

OIV

Another interesting figure is the consumption per capita, with Portugal in the lead, followed by France, Italy, Switzerland, and Belgium.

International trade in wine has almost seen an explosion since the early 2000s.

The value of exports has grown from 13.4 billion euro in 2000 to 31.3 billion euro in 2018, an increase of 134%, more than double. Compared with 2017, the value of exports in 2018 was up +1.2%

The world is not only trading more and more wine but it is also exporting (and importing) more expensive wines.

The biggest wine exporters, in volume:

  1. Spain
  2. Italy
  3. France
  4. Chile
  5. Australia

The biggest wine exporters in value:

  1. France
  2. Italy
  3. Spain
  4. Australia
  5. Chile

The biggest wine importers by volume 2018:

  1. Germany
  2. Great Britain
  3. USA
  4. France
  5. China

The biggest wine importers by value 2018:

  1. USA
  2. Great Britain
  3. Germany
  4. China
  5. Canada

German imports obviously focus on low-cost wines. It is a well-known fact that the German market is (sadly) focussed on “budget” wines. The French imports are even more concentrated on low-cost wines, which is probably because a big portion of it is bulk wine from Spain. The USA tends to buy expensive wines, as do the Japanese. As opposed to what many people think, China is not mainly buying very expensive wines. Instead, their average import price is quite – average, in an international comparison.

World wine trade 2018, source: OIV

OIV

A note on China: The very rapid growth of Chines wine production and Chinese wine consumption did not continue in 2018. Since so many wine producers and wine regions have a very strong focus on the Chinese market, and on China as a competitor, it is worth having a closer look. Chinese wine production fell by 20% (!) in 2018. Chinese wine consumption fell too, with -6.6%. But still, China is now the world’s fifth biggest wine consumer. One thing is clear though, the reputation of China as a country that only buys the most expensive, famous, exclusive wines is not correct. It is a big market for very “normal” wines too.

See here for more detailed statistics and analysis of the wine sector in 2018.

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