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Saturday, 4 August, 2001, 04:20 GMT 05:20 UK
French wine industry 'facing crisis'
France is no longer the biggest exporter of wine
By Valerie Jones in Paris

An official report to the French government says the country's wine industry is facing a crisis unless positive steps are taken.

France was once the biggest seller of wine around the world, but it can no longer make that claim.

Making wine at a French chateaux
French wine makers have been 'resting on their laurels'
In 1999, 79 million fewer bottles were exported from France than the previous year. Last year, 93 million fewer were exported.

Sales of Burgundy wine, in particular, fell by 30% last year, and of Beaujolais by 17%.

The competition is coming from newer wine producers from countries like the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Chile.

In the middle range of wines they are competitively priced, but they also have a more modern image, and some consumers think a better taste for the money.

Outdated marketing

The French government is now studying an official report by a French wine expert, Jacques Berteaux.

Mr Berteaux says French wine makers have been resting on their laurels and have not changed their marketing strategy in an increasingly competitive world.

He says there must be greater emphasis on branding and a real policy of promotion to fight against the wave of new wines.

Some French vineyards have been learning from the technology of the new wines, using production techniques developed in Australia and New Zealand.

One French wine has even been relabelled 'Kiwi cuvée' for the export market.

See also:

21 Jun 01 | Business
New world wins the wine war
13 Dec 00 | UK
Stick a plastic cork in it
24 Dec 00 | UK
What's in that glass?
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