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Is the wine shortage a false alarm?

  • There is no wine supply apocalypse, but the flow is tightening, at least in the short-term.

No one is predicting a wine supply apocalypse, but when Morgan Stanley analysts believe wine flow is dwindling, the industry gets jittery.

Released on Oct. 28, a Morgan Stanley report points to a 2012 wine undersupply: Including non-wine uses, demand exceeded supply by 300 million cases, a deficit described as “the deepest shortfall in over 40 years of records.”

The dilemma is a “two-headed monster” as described in Quartz. Global production is a bear with Spain, France and Italy unable to increase production: “Peak wine, the report holds, isn’t merely upon us; it already happened—back in 2004.” (In 2004, supply outpaced demand by approximately 600 million cases.)

Global consumption is a bull: “The U.S. and China, in particular, have been drinking more. The U.S., which guzzles roughly 12% of the world’s wine, has seen its per capita consumption double since the start of the century. And China, which is now the world’s fifth largest import market, has doubled its consumption not once, but twice in the past five years.” (For more, see Marketwatch's 10 charts that show we’re running out of wine)

Fair question: If the U.S. and China are predicted to knock down 400 million each by 2016, where will the wine come from? (France is still No. 1 in wine consumption; but the U.S. is a tight second.)

Are the wine fears simply exaggerated or based on misinterpretation of stats? “As this past year has unfolded, it has become pretty clear that we were not as tight as we thought,’ Stephen Rannekleiv, wine analyst and executive director of agri-food research at Rabobank International, told Decanter. “Average bulk wine prices in Chile, California, France, Italy and Spain have all come down by anywhere from 10% to 33% since January.”

If supply conditions do continue to tighten, particularly in regard to Europe, who stands to gain? New world exporters: Argentina, Australia, Chile, South Africa, and the U.S. — particularly California.


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