Brexit, climate change has nothing to do with ‘wine’, say French producers – EURACTIV.com
France will likely remain the undisputed leading supplier of wine to the UK despite the challenges posed by Brexit, climate change and growing international competition. EURACTIV France reports.
In 2020, UK importers spent an amount of £ 733million (€ 844million) on wine from France, making the country the UK’s leading supplier, ahead of Italy, New Zealand, Australia and Spain.
Apart from a slight drop in exports to the UK last year due to the pandemic and related restrictions, the additional administrative burdens brought by Brexit do not appear to have left too much mark.
“It is true that for French operators who had never before shipped their wine to a third country, the additional administrative burden is felt”, declared to EURACTIV Nicolas Ozanam, general delegate of the French Federation of wine exporters and spirits (FEVS).
The cost of new procedures also mainly affects small and medium-sized businesses.
However, the “vast majority” of operators exporting French wine to the UK would also export to other third countries and would therefore be used to red tape, Ozanam said.
The cost of adapting to the new procedures would remain “marginal” compared to the value of all exported wines, he added.
Foresight has also been a boon to the industry. In anticipation of Brexit, French winegrowers have decided to increase the volumes of wine shipped in order to build up stocks in the United Kingdom.
“We were privileged because our product is stable, we can store it for a few months without any problem, which allows us to anticipate the release”, explains Ozanam.
Vincent Léglantier, winemaker and secretary general of the French Wine and Vineyard Association (ANEV), stressed that there was “a sharp increase in purchases of champagne”. In anticipation of the new conditions of the post-Brexit regime.
“There was clearly a desire on the part of the British to build a cellar with French wines,” he said.
Although currently the UK’s largest supplier, France also faces increasing competition from New World wines, especially those produced in Australia, South Africa and Chile. Since Brexit, this competition has become even fiercer, according to Léglantier.
Léglantier and Ozanam are not concerned that Brexit will change things substantially, highlighting the long-standing tradition of drinking French wines in the UK.
UK wine boom could threaten France
Domestic production is also booming, as climate change increases average temperatures in the UK. Sparkling white wines with properties similar to those of champagne are particularly appreciated.
At the same time, French winegrowers are increasingly affected by periods of drought, torrential rains and frosts.
Still, Ozanam said this shouldn’t worry French growers as climate change is a long-term development, while the UK’s agricultural space is already established and a transition to meaningful viticulture will not take place. not overnight.
“When a country starts producing wine, it becomes part of the national DNA. The expansion of national production arouses the interest of consumers and the consumption of wine is increasing ”, explained the general delegate of FEVS.
In other words, the major wine producing countries are also the biggest consumers – and importers.
Moreover, even if climate change were to favor the production of white wines, “the United Kingdom will not be able to make red wine,” explains Léglantier. Although Brexit may make Britons more thirsty for their local whites, “it will not replace traditional wines,” he added.
For now, UK wine culture “also remains anecdotal,” said ANEV’s general secretary.
While the British wine industry produced a record 98,000 hectoliters of wine in 2018, France produced 49 million in the same year, or 500 times more – a reassuring figure for French winegrowers faced with Brexit, climate change and international competition.
[Edited by Gerardo Fortuna and Josie Le Blond]