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London, January 14, 2009 – Britain has become the world’s biggest consumer of imported wine and wine drinking is expected to grow over the next four years despite the economic downturn, says VINEXPO, an authority on wine and organizer of the world’s biggest wine and spirit exhibition.

Data compiled for VINEXPO by research company IWSR shows that the UK became the biggest importer of still and sparkling light wine by volume in 2007 when imports reached 135.8 million 9-litre cases, equivalent to more than 1.6 billion bottles. (One case = 12 x 75cl bottles)

The research reveals a detailed picture of wine drinking in Britain which grew more than 12% in the five years from 2003 to 2007 and is forecast to continue growing over the next five years, albeit at a much slower rate of just over 6%. As a result of the import growth, the UK has become a major sales target for world wine producers.

In the five years from 2003 consumption of still and sparkling wines per person of legal drinking age grew from 24.6 litres to 27.2 litres. Consumption per person is forecast to rise over the next five years to 28.3 litres.

However, Britain is still only 13th in the ranking of world consumption per head and that position is unlikely to change over the next five years. The top five largest consumers of wine per person in the world are: France (58.8 litres) Italy (56.4 litres) Switzerland (49.2 litres) Portugal (44.9 litres) and Austria (42.2 litres). Most of these countries are expected to show a decline in wine drinking in the next five years.

In the five years from 2003 to 2007 total UK consumption of still and sparkling wine rose from 127.7 million 9-litre cases to 144.6 million cases. By 2012 total consumption of still and sparkling wine is forecast to reach 155 million 9-litre cases.

White wine is most popular in the UK with rosé wine rising fast and red wine falling back.
In 2008 we were estimated to have drunk more than 764 million bottles of white wine in Britain; that number is forecast to rise to 823 million over the next five years. In the same period, consumption of rosé wine is forecast to rise more than 47% from 150 million bottles to 220 million bottles. Consumption of red wine is forecast to fall from 720 million bottles last year to 687 million in 2012.

The value of UK wine sales is forecast to rise more than 21% from 2003 to 2012. In 2008 the sales value of still light wine was estimated at US$6.5 billion (£3.3 billion)* Value is forecast to rise more than 7% over the next five years to reach US$6.9 billion.

The top five suppliers to the UK market are, in order of importance, Australia, France, USA, Italy and Spain. Except for France, which showed a fall in wine exports to the UK, other wine producing nations increased their volumes of still and sparkling wine. The USA showed the biggest rise with UK imports growing by 34.5% from 2003 to 2007.

Spirits consumption in the UK also rose over the five years from 2003 to 2007 when it reached 28.4 million 9-litre cases, or more than 336 million bottles. By 2012 consumption is forecast to grow nearly 6% to reach more than 356 million bottles.

Vodka is Britain’s favourite spirit; sales rose by one third from 2003 to 2007 to reach more than 8 million cases, or 96 million bottles. Consumption of vodka is forecast to continue growing and at a rate faster than any other spirit. By 2012 consumption will have grown a further 20% to 9.7 million 9-litre cases.

Scotch whisky, by contrast is losing its former top spot. Consumption fell by just over 11% from 2003 to 2007 and will continue falling by nearly 7% to 2012.

* Conversion rate of £1 = US$0.51 at mid 2007
Notes to Editors:
• IWSR is a leading, UK-based wine and spirit research and data base specialist
• Vinexpo is the world’s biggest wine and spirit exhibition and in 2009 is expected to attract nearly 2,400 exhibitors from 45 countries and 50,000 visitors from more than 150 countries
• Vinexpo is held in Bordeaux from June 21 – June 25, 2009

For more information see:
UK Media contacts:
Eugene Bacot 020 7731 4526
Colin Lewis 020 7731 4489
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1 Putney Bridge Approach

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Voice PR Ltd in the following categories: Men's Interest, Leisure & Hobbies, Home & Garden, Food & Drink, for more information visit