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France Allocates $216 Million to Dispose of 80 Million Gallons of Excess Wine

August 28, 2023

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In response to a challenging confluence of factors affecting the French wine industry, the government is set to provide approximately $216 million to aid wine producers in managing a surplus of nearly 80 million gallons of unsold wine.

French winemakers have been grappling with a perfect storm of issues, including overproduction, inflation, rising costs, shifting consumption habits, and the impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Disruption to fertilizer and bottle shipments and the effects of climate change have compounded their woes, making it difficult for them to navigate an increasingly competitive landscape.

Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau confirmed that the government’s financial assistance aims to help farmers dispose of excess wine, giving winemakers a chance to regain sources of revenue that would be unattainable if they lowered the price of the surplus. One region heavily impacted is Bordeaux, renowned for its vineyards, where drought has forced farmers to accelerate their harvest season from mid-September to mid-August.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To alleviate the surplus, Bordeaux winegrowers have the option to repurpose their land and remove their vines, receiving compensation from the government. The provided funds will enable farmers to distill the surplus wine into pure alcohol, which can then be sold at a loss to manufacturers in the cosmetics, perfume, and cleaning supplies industries.

In France, sales of red wine have dropped by 32% over the last decade, with younger generations opting for non-alcoholic choices, beer, and rosé. The pandemic exacerbated these challenges, impacting winemakers’ ability to recover.

Jean-Philippe Granier of the Languedoc wine producers’ association highlighted the stark reality: “We’re producing too much, and the sale price is below the production price, so we’re losing money.”

These issues mirror those faced by US grape growers, who are contending with a decline in wine demand. A recent study by Silicon Valley Bank revealed that younger consumers are becoming increasingly disengaged from the wine category, opting for alternative alcoholic beverages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite these challenges, the French government’s financial intervention signals an effort to stabilize and reinvigorate the nation’s wine industry, while acknowledging the need for adaptation to shifting market trends.

Credit: New York Post

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