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Italian woes see France regain pole position

France regained its position as the world’s biggest wine producer as the International Organisation of Vine & Wine released global production estimates for 2014.

The 271 million hectolitre worldwide total predicted for this year represented a 6% decline on 2013, itself a 37-year low for the industry, after a number of large volume countries struggled with difficult weather conditions during the growing season.

Among these was Italy, which lost its number one spot after wet weather saw the country receive 73% above average rainfall during July alone. Production estimates suggested total production volumes of 44.4m hl, a 15% decline on last year.

Eastern Europe was also hit hard, with Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia seeing production slide by 30%, 20% and 16% respectively.

Despite some problematic weather of its own, France saw a 10% increase in production against last year to hit 46.2m hl. There was also a strong rise of 16% for Germany, where volumes hit 9.7m hl. Meanwhile Spain saw production levels return to the country’s average of 37m hl after last year’s record high.

Outside Europe, the US recorded its third consecutive increase to reach a predicted 2014 harvest of around 22.5m hl.

The picture was more mixed in the southern hemisphere, where Chile slipped back by 22% to 10m hl in the wake of two record years. Argentina remained stable at 15.2m hl, just 1% higher than in 2013, while South Africa saw a 4% rise to reach 11.4m hl.

Meanwhile in Oceania, New Zealand enjoyed record production of 3.2m hl, smashing its previous 2013 record by 29%. It was a more measured performance from Australia, where volumes rose to 12.6m hl compared to 12.3m hl a year ago.

There was no 2014 data available for China, whose 2013 output was 12m hl. Between them the 10 largest wine producers – in order, France, Italy, Spain, US, Argentina, Australia, China, South Africa, Chile and Germany – account for more than 80% of global production.

Although the OIV did not offer a firm consumption forecast for 2014, the organisation reported that initial trends pointed to around 243m hl, leading it to suggest that this year’s harvest was sufficient to meet the needs of the wine industry, as well as brandy, vinegar and vermouth production.

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