29th October, 2013 by Lucy Shaw
Wine consumption in Italy, one of the world’s largest producers, has hit a record low, with consumption per capita at its weakest since Italy was unified in 1861.
As reported by The Huffington Post, the economic downturn has largely been to blame for the dip in domestic consumption, which has sped up a decades-long decline.
According to Italian winemaking association Assoenologi, Italians are expected to drink 40 liters per person this year, down from 45 liters before the financial crisis hit in 2007.
“Wine has become a hedonistic product, which is not part of Italians’ basic diet anymore, leaving it more exposed to short-term fluctuations in economic conditions,” Michele Fino, a professor at the University of Gastronomic Studies in Pollenzo, told the HP.
“The recession was like the flu that arrives when one’s defenses are already low,” Fino added.
And while Italians are turning their back on wine, they are developing an increasing thirst for beer, with beer consumption having doubled in the country since the ‘70s.
Though Italy is not alone – wine consumption is also on a downward curve in Spain and France as younger consumers seek out alternative alcoholic drinks.
The dip in local consumption of Italian wine has led to more than 50% of national production being exported abroad, up from 28% in 2000.
The US and Germany remain its two key markets, but Asia is showing great promise, with Italian wine exports to China up by almost 20% in 2012 on 2011.
The majority of Italian wines shipped abroad command premium prices, meaning Italy’s entry-level producers have been hardest hit by the slump in consumption at home.