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World Drinks Less Wine Per Capita

Gains in emerging markets outpaced by sustained drops in the European Union

Posted: May 18, 2009

People are drinking wine at a slower rate, and the global recession appears to have accelerated the trend. Worldwide per-capita wine consumption fell for the third consecutive year in 2008, and is projected to fall even further, at least until early in the next decade. Last year, the world consumed an average of 3.5 liters per-capita, a full liter less than in 1990, according to The Global Drinks Market: Impact Databank Review and Forecast, 2008 edition. Current world per-capita consumption is at its lowest level in at least four decades.

Much of the blame can be placed on the mature wine markets of the European Union, where lifestyle changes have been a major factor in the decline, particularly in France and Italy, where wine has traditionally been consumed with meals. For Europeans with increasingly fast-paced lifestyles, soft drinks, juice and bottled water have taken over important roles at drinking occasions, particularly among younger drinkers. In 1980, France and Italy combined for 45 percent of global wine consumption, but by last year, their aggregate share was down to 24 percent, according to the upcoming report.

At the beginning of the millennium, the existing 15 members of the EU combined for a total wine consumption of 1.4 billion cases, or 57 percent of world volume. The admittance of 12 new member nations has since added nearly 150 million cases to the size of the wine market in that geopolitical region. But per-capita wine consumption continues to decline in the EU, from 30 liters in 1995 down to 28 liters last year, according to Impact Databank, which is owned by M. Shanken Communications, the parent company of Wine Spectator.

Until recently, overall wine consumption was growing, thanks to emerging markets. But the recession has depressed total consumption as well. The United States still represents tremendous potential for the world wine market—Americans consumed an average of only 9 liters per-capita last year, compared to 51 liters and 44 liters, respectively, for the French and Italians. Canada, Chile, South Africa and Australia have all enjoyed steady consumption growth also, as have the emerging markets of India, Taiwan, South Korea and Norway. But China will probably account for much of the future growth in global wine consumption, as the Chinese drink less than a bottle of wine per person annually. The financial crisis has slowed down this growth momentum somewhat, but huge opportunities still abound, especially for large multinational wine companies doing business in China.


The annual Global Drinks Market report analyzes the latest trends in the world beverage alcohol industry. With more than 600 tables, color graphs and maps, the expanded 2008 edition provides extensive analysis of the global markets for wine, spirits and beer. The report provides a first look at 2008 data by brand, country and type, and offers comprehensive forecasts through 2015. The current edition is also available on CD in pdf format (PCs only).

For more information about The Global Drinks Market, priced at $3,475 for the printed report and $3,975 for the CD version, as well as other Impact Databank reports on the U.S. wine distilled spirits, and beer industries, contact Elisa Trapani at M. Shanken Communications, 387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016, by phone at (212) 684-4224, ext. 339; by fax at (212) 779-3366; or by e-mail at etrapani@mshanken.com. A comprehensive table of contents and a detailed listing of tables and charts is available. To print an order form, click here.

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