Wine fair eyes Africa’s new tip­plers

The China Post - - ARTS & LEISURE - BY LAU­RENT ABADIE

The world’s big­gest wine fair opens in Bordeaux, wine cap­i­tal of France, this week­end, with vint­ners eye­ing new tip­plers in Africa as global con­sump­tion rises in Asia and else­where.

The U. S. and China are the world’s top wine- lovers, but Africa is the in­dus­try’s next “fu­ture des­ti­na­tion,” says the Vin­expo wine and spir­its fair, in a mar­ket ex­pect­ing 3.5- per­cent growth over the next three years.

In Bordeaux, 45,000 buy­ers from 120 na­tions will hop from luxury chateaux to pres­tige vine­yards par­ty­ing and guz­zling as France, the world’s lead­ing wine pro­ducer, lays out its best bot­tles and fare for a five- day get-to­gether start­ing Sun­day.

Wine is France’s sec­ond-big­gest ex­port af­ter aero­nau­tics, ac­count­ing for half a mil­lion jobs, and Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande will be the first head of state to open the Vin­expo fair.

But wine and spir­its con­sump­tion, though buoy­ant, faces “a chang­ing pic­ture” and “many un­cer­tain­ties,” said the fair’s CEO Guil­laume Deglise.

“We’re at a mo­ment of tran­si­tion with well-de­vel­oped mar­kets on the wane, such as France be­cause of changes in con­sump­tion pat­terns and dif­fer­ences be­tween gen­er­a­tions,” Deglise told AFP.

“It’s im­por­tant to iden­tify mar­kets that will drive our ex­ports out­side of China and the U.S.,” he said.

Data sur­pris­ingly puts pop­u­lous Nige­ria — where just over half the peo­ple are Mus­lim — as one of the fastest-grow­ing coun­tries for cham­pagne con­sump­tion, with the bub­bly popular among its oil- rich mid­dle class, its hip- hop artists, and its movie stars.

And as sales of co­gnac and other spir­its slow in Asia, Nige­ri­ans spent US$700 mil­lion (621 mil­lion eu­ros) on spir­its in 2012 and are ex­pected to dou­ble that to US$1.5 bil­lion by 2017.

The Vin­expo fair will gather 2,350 ex­hibitors from 42 coun­tries, two-thirds of them from France, which last year pro­duced 523 mil­lion 12-bot­tle crates.

Big pro­duc­ers Italy and Spain too will be well- rep­re­sented along with Por­tu­gal, Chile, Ar­gentina, the United States, the United King­dom, Ger­many, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Rais­ing glasses will be buy­ers and traders in all tip­ples — reds, whites, roses, bub­blies, sweet and dry wines, sher­ries, cheap plonk and bou­tique brands.

Even Ge­or­gia’s famed old­world wines — aged in am­phoras ac­cord­ing to a tra­di­tion that dates back thou­sands of years — will get head­line at­ten­tion as its wine tech­niques be­come in­creas­ingly popular.

In France it­self, some of the talk is likely to fo­cus on a con­tro­ver­sial vote by French MPs last week to loosen the coun­try’s tough 25-year-old laws on al­co­hol ad­ver­tis­ing.

The 1991 leg­is­la­tion, aimed at fight­ing youth drink­ing, banned TV ad­ver­tis­ing of drinks with al­co­hol con­tent of more than 1.2 per­cent and show­ing brands in sta­dium hoard­ing.

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