France to Spend €200 Million on Destroying Wine

The French government has announced the allocation of €200 million to support the wine industry amid a myriad of challenges it faces

by Faruk Imamovic
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France to Spend €200 Million on Destroying Wine
© Getty Images Entertainment/Rob Kim

The French government has announced the allocation of €200 million to support the wine industry amid a myriad of challenges it faces, from dwindling demand to a biting cost-of-living crisis. This substantial aid package is a testament to the significance of the wine sector in France’s economy and culture.

“We’re producing too much, and the sale price is below the production price, so we’re losing money,” said Jean-Philippe Granier, from the Languedoc wine producers’ association. Instead of allowing excess stock to go to waste, the bulk of the funding will be utilized to purchase surplus wine.

This wine, in turn, will be repurposed for manufacturing a range of products, including hand sanitisers, cleaning agents, and perfumes. Such a strategic move not only addresses the surplus issue but also taps into high-demand sectors amid the ongoing global health crisis.

Addressing Overproduction and Shifting Consumer Preferences

Beyond merely providing financial support, there's a broader vision in place. The industry is encouraged to innovate, especially with the evident challenge of overproduction.

To this end, winegrowers are incentivized to diversify their offerings. Part of the fund will be available for those looking to venture into alternative crops, such as olives, potentially transforming the landscape of French agriculture in the process.

However, the monetary aid, which includes an initial EU contribution of €160 million and an additional top-up from the French government, isn’t the sole solution. The wine industry must also introspect and recalibrate.

Agriculture Minister Fesneau stresses the need for the sector to "look to the future, think about the changes in consumers... and adapt". Highlighting the magnitude of the crisis, recent data from the European Commission paints a somber picture.

Wine consumption has seen sharp declines across major European nations. In the year leading up to June, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and Portugal witnessed decreases of 7%, 10%, 15%, 22%, and 34% respectively. Contrastingly, wine production across the European bloc – the world's foremost wine-producing region – saw an uptick of 4%. This stark disparity between supply and demand underscores the challenges ahead.

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