By Daniel Hunter

The downturn in UK wine drinking which has seen a 10.5% per capita drop since 2008, will end this year, according wine and spirits exhbition VINEXPO.

The survey shows that adult wine consumption will start to edge up over the next five years. However, wine drinking will not recover to its 2008 level of 25 litres per person - equivalent in that year to 1.61 billion bottles of white, rosé and red wine (134.8 million nine-litre cases) - in the foreseeable future.

VINEXPO said there will be a slow recovery over the next five years, reaching 22.5 litres per head by 2018 when consumption is forecast to hit a total of 1.54 billion bottles (128.71m cases). UK wine drinking hit a six-year low in 2014, falling by 146 million bottles (122.2m cases) compared with the high point of 2008.

But the total retail value of UK wine sales edged up over the same period due to an increase in sales of premium-priced wines. The value of total UK wine sales rose from $14 billion in 2008 to reach $16.1 billion last year. It is forecast to reach $16.47 billion this year.

Fizzing future

The outstanding success since 2008 is the rise of sparkling wine. Its popularity with UK drinkers shows no sign of slowing. In the ten years from 2008 to 2018 UK drinkers are forecast to increase consumption per person from 1.6 litres to 2.2 litres a year.

The volume of sparkling wine drunk in the UK rose from 8.68 million cases in 2008 to 11.23 by last year and is forecast to reach 11.56 million cases this year.

Driving the category are imports of Prosecco. In 2013 alone the Italian sparkling wine saw growth of 43% in UK imports. Over the five years from 2008 to 2013 imports doubled from 1.38 million nine-litre cases to 3.57 million cases.

Of the top five exporters of sparkling wine to the UK, Italy, Spain and the much-smaller USA, showed
growth last year, while Champagne and Australian exports fell.

In the pink

While white is the UK’s favourite wine colour, the popularity of rosé wine has held up relatively well since 2008. Consumption in 2015 is expected to reach 175 million bottles (14.59m cases) and to arrive at 183 million bottles (15.24m cases) by 2018.

The volume of white wine consumed in the UK is forecast to pick up from a low of 662.6 million bottles (55.21m cases last year to 676.7 million bottles (56.39m cases) this year and to 698.7 million bottles (58.22m cases) by 2018.

Red wine will recover from a low of 636.2 million bottles (53.01m cases) last year, to reach 645.2 million bottles (53.76m cases) in 2015.

None of the three will hit their peaks of 2008 when white volume was 720.2 million bottles (60m cases), rosé 186.7 million bottles (15.56m cases) and red 710.3 million bottles (59.19m cases), says VINEXPO.

Guillaume Deglise, CEO of VINEXPO, said: “We can say confidently that 2015 will show that the UK wine recession is over. While the UK market shed 9.6m cases between 2008 and 2013, it is now past its low point. The UK wine trade is building value and many leading marketers report progress at the premium end”.

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