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Jul 4, 2004
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World wine sales to grow 5% by 2010, trade group predicts
Tuesday February 6, 2:28 pm ET
By William Spain

<DIV =ar>CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- The global thirst for wine shows no signs of slowing down, with consumption expected to rise about 5% by 2010 as new markets open up and the U.S. becomes the world's largest market, according to a new report.

The projections by trade group VinExpo/IWSR, released in New York Tuesday afternoon, envision world wine volume -- currently about 30 billion bottles a year -- will grow by 267 million bottles annually over the next four years to command a retail value of $117 billion.

"Every year, the world is drinking about 1% more volume," Robert Beynat, chief executive of VinExpo, in a written statement. "And the value is rising twice as fast as the volume."

Indeed, people are not only drinking more, they are drinking higher-end products: Sales of wine priced between $5 and $10 a bottle look to rise 9% between now and 2010 while that priced at $5 or below -- currently three-quarters of the total by volume -- will increase just 2.4%, the study projected.

In the U.S. alone, the value of wine consumed will grow about 18% by 2010 to $23 billion, Beynat said, and it will become the world's biggest market by volume, surpassing current leaders France and Italy.

Russia and China will also be key to growth, Beynat said. He estimated that only between 50 million and 100 million people currently drink wine at all in China but it will enter the top 10 markets by 2010, particularly as the local industry gets off the ground.

"The more the Chinese produce wine, the more they will drink and the more they will import,' he said. "It is like the story of America 50 years ago," when Americans drank very little wine until the "inspiration of Mr. Gallo."

As to the harder stuff, VinExpo predicts that spirits consumption worldwide will jump to 2.31 billion nine-liter cases by 2010, a 6% aggregate growth rate -- and it will rise even faster in Asia, already the largest consuming region.

Global spirits sales hit $170 billion in 2005 and should add $10 billion more in the next four years. At 504 million cases, vodka is -- and will remain -- the most popular spirit. However, its phenomenal growth -- 18% between 2001 and 2005 -- is expected to slow to 4.4%, a rate that will be handily outpaced by scotch, rum and tequila.

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