peaking in Brussels on Wednesday, Thierry Coste, chairman of the Copa-Cogeca working party on wine, said that “the low harvest is creating tensions on the market. Vine production is very cyclical by nature and the situation shows the need for updated market data to enable producers to better adapt production to demand
”. After collecting and collating data from all EU member states, Copa-Cogeca estimates that this year’s EU wine crop will be a dramatic 10 percent down on last year. Extreme weather conditions such as drought in the southernmost countries and, conversely, cold, wet weather in other parts of Europe have led to a sharp decline in production this year. The EU is set to harvest just 144.4 million hectolitres of wine, compared with 160.5 million last year. With the exception of some of the minor wine producing countries, and Portugal where the crop is expected to be up 4.5 percent on last year, all the major producer countries within the EU are forecasting small crops. France is down by as much as 19 percent (40.6 mhl), Spain by 5.3 percent (35.5 mhl) and Italy by 7.1 percent (39.5 mhl); for France and Italy, this is the lowest level in over 40 years.
According to Copa-Cogeca, the volatility of wine production needs to be controlled by legal restrictions on new plantings and the introduction of a market observatory which would provide comprehensive, up-to-date information on current trends within Europe and in the global marketplace. “We also need an EU regulatory framework on vine plantings for all types of wine in order to keep a balanced wine sector, which allows farmers to create value and keep it within family farms. Otherwise, industrialisation would threaten the wealth of European wine supply and significantly upset the balance across the wine growing chain to the detriment of the weakest link, the farmers”. With exports worth 8 billion euros in 2012, accounting for nearly a quarter of European exports of agricultural products, the European wine sector is unquestionably of paramount importance to the EU economy. Copa-Cogeca hopes EU authorities will take this into account when a final decision is made on planting rights towards the end of this year.