France’s wine industry and trade object to “dry January”

Tuesday November 05 2019 by Vitisphere

 “This message will bring a feeling of guilt to the 90% plus French people who drink below the limits. But it will not change the behaviour of the minority who have an addiction”, criticised Jean-Marie Fabre. “This message will bring a feeling of guilt to the 90% plus French people who drink below the limits. But it will not change the behaviour of the minority who have an addiction”, criticised Jean-Marie Fabre. - Photo credit : IWSR

Plans for France’s first “dry January” are stirring up renewed tension between the government and the wine and spirits sector. The idea “calls into question the public health policy advocated until now by the French authorities, by replacing the concept of moderation by abstinence”, denounced eight wine and spirits organisations in a letter sent to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

Inspired by Britain’s dry January, “this paradigm shift in policy is incomprehensible. Heading towards "dry January" implies breaking with the idea that it is better to educate people about the culture of wine than to ban it”, reproached Jean-Marie Fabre, chairman of France’s independent winegrowers’ federation (VIF). “And if you don't drink for a month, what does that imply about the other eleven months of the year? That you can do whatever you like?”

Dry January is the last straw to break the proverbial camel’s well-laden back”, added Éric Tesson, director of the AOC wine federation (CNAOC). “Faced with a series of decisions that work against us, the entire industry is calling on the President to support us”, stressed Tesson. Signed by ten representatives of wine producers and trading companies, the letter warns President Emmanuel Macron about “a set of circumstances that put the competitiveness and sustainability of the wine sector at risk”. The list of grievances ranges from no-spray buffer zones near local residents to discontent over delays in the payment of export subsidies. Not to mention the lack of government action following the US’s sudden decision to ramp up taxes, uncertainties about Brexit and the slowdown in Chinese imports.

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