In January 2013, Vinexpo – organiser of the immense biennial international wine fair in Bordeaux – released its annual study (here) of worldwide wine trends over the coming three years. Canada, it forecasts, will continue its impressive growth in wine consumption by 14.2% between 2012 and 2016 (it rose 14.5% between 2007 and 2011). This sets us on a growth path three times greater than the global average increase, and places us fifth in overall consumption behind the US, China, Russia and Germany. These trends and the numbers behind them prompt many interesting questions, but here we’ll consider just a few homegrown topics: what wines will Canadians – and British Columbians in particular – be drinking over the coming years? How will this rapid growth take place? And how can BC wineries and wine lovers benefit?
What will we be drinking? According to the Vinexpo report, Canadians’ consumption habits generally reflect worldwide trends, but with red table wines more dominant here (54% of the global market, 61% of the Canadian market. Overall, Canadians consumed 43 million (9 litre) cases of wine in 2011, and are forecast to drink over 50 million cases in 2016. We are not forecast to participate heavily in the “premiumisation” of wine: dollar sales are forecast to keep pace with volumes (a 14.7% increase for a total of C$5.7 billion in 2016). Critically, we will continue to embrace imported wines (a 17% increase) at the expense of domestic wines (growth rate declining by 3 points to 7.7%).
Turning to BC, if the past is a guide to the future, the December 2012 BCLDB Quarterly Market Report can extrapolate the trends observed over the past five years. Without going into great depth, domestic wines overtook imports by volume between 2009 and 2010 (3.5 million domestic cases to 3.4 million import cases), and consumption has increased at roughly the same rate since then (by 2.6% annually). Encouragingly, consumption of domestic table wines (including VQA and non-VQA) are growing about 1/3 faster (year over year 2012) than import table wines. Dollar sales continue to show a substantial divergence, which is a concern: British Columbians are prepared to pay much less for domestic wines than imports. In 2016 then, will BC reflect the national consumption trend to imports forecast by Vinexpo, or will we continue to support domestic wines more than the country as a whole? If the trendlines continue, we will enthusiastically quaff BC wines, but not open our wallets very far for them.