In the west of France, in the Bordeaux area, are the vineyards of Gironde. Despite being among the most popular and internationally famous, the wines of the region have entered an “existential crisis”. Such is the situation that many winegrowers want to uproot their vines and diversify their business to other crops. A crisis that is also accompanied by the French government, which will devote some 200 million euros to destroy the surpluses. It is not only in Bordeaux that the wine crisis is felt, but it is a sample of the paradigm facing the French production sector.
French wine, a business that is no longer profitable.
There are several determining factors why the profitable business of the past has plummeted. Climate change, changes in consumption habits and variations in the market are the main problems.
When it comes to determining what is causing the crisis, the numbers speak for themselves. Despite the fact that in 2022 French wines reached record exports worth €17.2 billion, many claim that this value is due to rising prices and not production.
The numbers don’t lie, as sales volume retracted by almost 4% because of frost and logistical problems. According to the “International Organisation of Vine and Wine”, wine exports in France contracted by 4.7% in 2022. However, France continues to lead the European wine market alongside Italy and Spain.
Other numbers are also eloquent, the sale of red wines in supermarkets retracted by 15% in 2022. Whites and rosés fared better, with sales down only 4%. A platform that measures wine consumption in France (Statista) reports that in the 1960s the French consumed 115.7 liters of wine per person per year. In the present, that figure dropped to 17.2 liters, according to the last measurement they made in 2018.
Meanwhile, other marketing studies point out that in the last 10 years the consumption of red wines fell by 32%. The change in consumption habits has its consequence, as beer experienced a 7% increase.
Will the number of vineyards in France decrease?
Due to this existential crisis of French wine, many winegrowers want to engage in another business. Between June and July 2023, hundreds of requests for compensation were received to allocate their land to another type of enterprise. Pre-applications to abandon wine production in Gironde reached almost 600, representing more than 5,000 hectares currently under vine.
Thirty-six percent of these producers wish to grub up the vines and no longer engage in agriculture. The remaining 64% want to diversify their crops to make them more profitable. Statistics also mark the increase of brewers, so the sale of this product increased and replaces wine.
It is estimated that in France more than 15 thousand hectares will cease to be vineyards. So producers are asking for a compensation of 10 thousand euros per hectare. It must be taken into account that this generates unemployment, between 100,000 and 150,000 jobs are at risk.