France to spend millions on wine disposal

The government approved the drastic plan amid falling demand and a huge surplus that is driving prices down

The French government and the EU will shell out a total of €200 million ($216 million) to destroy wine surpluses in a country renowned for its centuries-old winemaking traditions, Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau has said. Officials in Paris cited sluggish demand which resulted in overproduction and falling prices.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Fesneau explained that the money is “aimed at stopping prices collapsing and so that wine-makers can find sources of revenue again.” The official also suggested that the entire industry should “think about consumer changes… and adapt.

According to AFP, the alcohol from the condemned wine could be sold to companies that produce hand sanitizers, cleaning products, and perfume.

Among France’s most affected regions are the famed Bordeaux area, as well as the southwestern Languedoc region.

Earlier this month, AFP quoted Jean-Philippe Granier from the Languedoc wine producers’ association as saying, “We’re producing too much, and the sale price is below the production price, so we’re losing money.

In June, the French Agriculture Ministry announced it would earmark €57 million to fund the destruction of around 9,500 hectares of vineyards in the Bordeaux region. Officials have also been offering financial incentives to grape growers to switch to other products.

The European Commission reported in June that high inflation had dampened wine consumption. This, combined with a strong harvest in 2022, led to the surplus.

According to the commission’s data at the time, wine consumption fell by 7% in Italy, 10% in Spain, 15% in France, 22% in Germany, and 34% in Portugal.

The bloc’s wine exports between January and April 2023 also declined – 8.5% compared to the same period last year.

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