Organic wines: French consumption outstripping production gains

Thursday February 11 2016 by Vitisphere

In 2015, the French organic vineyard boasted 5,200 certified farms – including 260 newcomers – covering 67,300 hectares, up 3% on 2014. Although there has been no decline, “the rate of commitment has slowed”, admitted Elisabeth Mercier, director of Agence Bio at a conference during Millésime Bio 2016. Growth is particularly slow when compared with 2009-2010 when “wine growing stood out from the rest of the country’s farming community for the rate of conversions, which were higher by area than vineyards that had already switched to organic”, recalled Elisabeth Mercier. As a reminder, both consumption and production of organic wines in France trebled between 2007 and 2014.

Expansion in vineyard area is particularly slow when compared with domestic consumption, which has reportedly risen by 15% since 2007, according to the latest estimates by Agence Bio. With over half of domestically produced organic wines drunk within the country (56% in 2014), the gap between production and consumption has become a major cause for concern. “Our challenge is to respond to demand from consumers over the long term”, said wine grower Patrick Guiraud, who chairs Millésime Bio. As the change-over period lasts three years, new impetus has to be given now: “Estates currently switching over to organic will ensure annual development of the organic vineyard - + 5% in 2016. But after that, a slowdown in the number of newcomers could jeopardise the balance between production and consumption”, he explained. By 2019, organic vineyards coming on-stream will no longer be sufficient to maintain that balance. As an incentive for new conversions, Patrick Guiraud is hoping that new developments in engineering will facilitate changes to vineyard management. This challenge will likely be a central issue in the 2020 prospective research currently being conducted by France Vin Bio.

 

Source: Vitisphere; Photo: Millésime Bio 2016 (Alexandre Abellan/Vitisphere

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