Robert Beynat, Vinexpo co-founder and CEO, image  supplied

Robert Beynat, Vinexpo co-founder and CEO, image supplied

Looking or someone with their finger on the pulse of the world wine market?

Chances are Robert Beynat is your man.

Beynat is one of the co-founders of Vinexpo. Held every other year in Bordeaux since 1981, it’s now widely regarded as the world’s leading international wine and spirits exhibition. He’s also the brainchild behind Vinexpo’s expansion into Asia, where 13 years ago he helped launch the first Vinexpo Asia Pacific and subsequent shows.

In anticipation of this year’s fair (June 16-20), Vinexpo released an avalanche of numbers and forecasts. [See below]

Some you might find quite surprising.

While we all know the Chinese have been big on red wine for a while, China has more than doubled its consumption in the last five years, and bumped the Americans out of third place as one of the world’s top red wine drinking countries.

Long gone are the days of cutting Petrus (or Haut-Brion) with Ginger Ale.

Tracking the world's biggest wine drinkers - Canada has a way to go yet...

Tracking the world’s biggest wine drinkers – Canada has a way to go yet…

Reasons for the increased Chinese appetite are numerous, suggests Beynat, ranging from the ongoing influence of the “French paradox” that still carries plenty of weight, to the strength of Bordeaux as the world’s most famous wine brand. Plus, he suggests, red wine is the wine of choice for Chinese cuisine. (Although some might beg to differ …)

Yet, when looking at China, Beynat says it’s important to note that wine culture hasn’t been embraced by its entire billion-plus population. The real number, he suggests, is likely closer to 120 million, at least for now.

Expect China’s love affair with the grape to continue to grow, he says, particularly as its domestic wine industry gathers steam.

Even if China has moved into fifth spot in world wine consumption, it still lags behind the United States (no. 1, overall), which Beynat still regards as “the market to watch first, today . . . and tomorrow.”

Back here in the Great White North, Vinexpo’s number crunchers say we’ll also be drinking a whole lot more wine in the next few years, with consumption pegged to increase 14.27 per cent by 2016, three times greater than the global average rate. Our thirst for more and better wines, predicts Vinexpo’s forecast, will see Canada become the world’s fifth fastest growing wine market, behind China, the United States, Russia and Germany.

(Interestingly, Vinexpo’s forecast suggests while Canadian wine production will increase by 8.84%, we’ll be drinking about 3% less of it. It’s not clear how Cellared in Canada wines figure in … )

“The trend in the world is to drink better,” says Beynat. “But there’s now a tendency in (the) old countries to drink less.”

Then again, as Beynat notes, Canadians “still drink only half what the British drink,” and he jokes that “we (the French) are at 50 litres per person, compared to your 15.”

Some of that wine will also be pink: Beynat says rosé’s popularity is definitely on the rise; and while white wine sales continue to struggle, “a glass of Chardonnay remains the ideal apéritif.”

In fact, overall, the picture is a whole lot rosier than you’d expect.

“The surprise of the study,” says Vinexpo’s wine market guru, is that the economic crisis didn’t have a lot of impact because, in the end, people will pay for pleasure.”

I’ll drink to that.


Leading wine exporters: some interesting numbers 2007-2011: Italy, Spain, Chile, U.S.A., Argentina and Portugal all made impressive gains.

. . .

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(Most of) This post appears in today’s North Shore News

UPDATED, Feb 5, 2013:

For all you number-crunching wine geeks, here’s the latest from Vinexpo, in full:



 Montréal, February 5, 2013 – The unveiling of Vinexpo’s 11th study on the Current trends in the international wine and spirits market and outlook to 2016, conducted by British firm, The International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR) on behalf of Vinexpo was held last week in Montreal and Toronto, with the participation of the prestigious fair’s spokespersons, Robert Beynat, general manager and Xavier de Eizaguirre, chairman.

A veritable benchmark for sector professionals, this much-anticipated study confirms that Canada will maintain its impressive growth rate with regard to wine consumption between 2012 and 2016 (+14.27 per cent), three times greater than the global average.

Between 2012 and 2016, Canada will become the 5th fastest growing wine market worldwide behind China, the U.S., Russia and Germany.

Vinexpo, the international wine and spirits fair, will open its doors in five months, running from June 16 to 20, 2013. Held every two years, the fair highlights the achievements made by sector professionals. More than 650 Canadian operators will join the event’s 48,000 expected visitors.


Accelerated growth within the international wine market

Still and sparkling wines posted a +2.8 per cent increase between 2007 and 2011, for a sales total of 2.679 billion 9-litre cases, representing 32 billion bottles. The Vinexpo study forecasts that said consumption growth rate will increase between 2012 and 2016 and re-establish the pace it set in the early 2000s at +5.3 per cent over five years. The study further estimates that international consumption in 2016 will reach 2.873 billion 9-litre cases, representing 34.48 billion bottles.

“This growth is easy to explain,” comments Robert Beynat, general manager of Vinexpo. “China, the United States and Russia are core markets that drive international growth. In 2010, China became the world’s fifth biggest wine consumer, while the United States took the lead.”

These three markets and Australia alone saw their consumption jump by 1.55 billion bottles between 2007 and 201

However, the situation is reversed across Europe, where wine consumption is undergoing a downturn. For the first time in 15 years, the United Kingdom and Germany posted a respective drop of -4.07 per cent and -2.73 per cent between 2007 and 2011. France and Italy were similarly affected during this period, with respective drops of -7.13 per cent and -2.51 per cent, while Spain underwent a significant free-fall of 19.67 per cent over the past five years. The United States, France and Italy were the period’s top three consumers, but Germany will catch its decline by 2016 and surpass France and Italy to position itself as the second largest consume.

On the export side, the French have reaffirmed their international leadership position with an export sales figure of US $9.9 billion (+5.24 per cent since 2007).

Italy, Spain and Australia are hot on their heels, posting significant sales volume increases. Sadly, said boosts are not proportional to their sales figure increase, reflecting a notable average price drop among export wines.


Evolving consumption habits

The Vinexpo study underscores several major changes in consumption habits, namely the rapid growth of sparkling wines, with an 8.52 per cent increase between 2012 and 2016, as well as the steady rise of rosé wines, which will rise 7.58 per cent by 2016.

Red wines are still dominating the international market, as they represented 54.7 per cent of still wine consumption in 2011 and will post a 9.1 per cent increase by 2016.

It also bears mentioning that consumers are looking for quality. Bottles sold at over $10 per unit totalled 213.566 million 9-litre cases in 2011 and said volume will undergo significant growth (+29.93 per cent) between 2011 and 2016.

Canadian consumers are no different, with 69.5 per cent of wines bought in Canada valued at over $10. Furthermore, the Vinexpo study believes this consumption rate will increase by 30.45 per cent by 2016.


Fast-growing Canadian market

Between 2007 and 2011, wine consumption in Canada increased by +14.55 per cent, for a total of 43.21 million cases consumed in 2011. By 2016, this rate should stay the course, reaching 50.70 million cases, representing 14.27 per cent increase between 2012 and 2016, three times greater than the average international growth. This rapid growth can be explained by the fact that Canada still has a low consumption per capita (14.7 litres/person/year – 14th position) and can only expect to increase.

Consumption trends are stable, with a 17.49 per cent increase in red wine consumption between 2012 and 2016, representing 61.7 per cent of Canada’s still wine consumption, while rosés continue their rapid ascension, with a 45.41 per cent boost between 2012 and 2016.

As for value, sales figure growth keeps pace with volumes, with wine sales in Canada expected to increase by +14.75 per cent, for a total of $5.7 billion in 2016.


Import wine consumption is going strong, totalling 31.27 million cases in 2011 and expected to post 37.59 million cases by 2016, representing a 17 per cent increase. However, the domestic wine consumption rate is likely to drop slightly (from +10.71 per cent to +7.72 per cent) by 2016.

Coming as a major change since 2011, France has lost its status as Canada’s foremost supplier to Italy (only in volume), whose exports to Canada posted a +16.1 per cent increase, while France saw its Canada-bound exports drop by -3.74 per cent.


Spirits market stabilization

According to the Vinexpo study, world spirits consumption should stabilize, posting a +8.98 per cent growth rate increase by 2016, well below its +32.64 per cent growth between 2007 and 2011.

The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s foremost spirits consumption zone (61.5 per cent of global consumption). This region posted a tremendous growth rate of +74.31 per cent from 2007 to 2011, which should stabilize to +13.63 per cent between 2012 and 2016.

In Canada, spirits consumption should grow +3.70 per cent between 2012 and 2016. This accelerated growth stems from an increase in import spirits consumption (+4.16 per cent) in 2012 and a drop in domestic spirits.

Vodka, the most popular spirit in Canada (4.76 million cases in 2011), is expected to grow +9.83 per cent between 2012 and 2016. It is followed by rum, which saw its consumption rate increase by +6.55 per cent between 2007 and 2011.

– 30 –

About Vinexpo

Created in 1981 by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Vinexpo exhibition has stood out over the years as being the largest global world wine and spirits exhibition for decision-makers, distributors and producers in the field. Held in Bordeaux every other year, Vinexpo has seen an impressive growth since its creation. In 2011, Vinexpo welcomed 2,400 exhibitors from 47 countries, 48,122 visitors from 148 countries and more than 1,254 journalists and writers. An exceptional showcase for products from around the world, Vinexpo is an exchange and debate point in the heart of the world’s most renowned wine-producing districts. Beyond the exhibition itself, Vinexpo has succeeded in providing wine and spirits professionals with a genuine tool for strategic reflection and planning through studies, symposia and conferences. Website:


About the study

For the eleventh year, British firm IWSR was mandated by Vinexpo to produce a detailed report on global consumption, production and international exchanges in the wine and spirits industry, with an outlook to 2016. The study was conducted in 28 wine-producing countries and on 114 wine and spirit consumer markets. Since 1971, the IWSR database provides the most detailed and precise information on the global alcoholic beverage market.

Source:  Vinexpo/The IWSR study