Allegrini 2018

Young people are abandoning wine, while beer is gaining ground in Italy and France

In 2021, beer consumption in Italy reached 35.2 liters per capita, against 40 liters for wine: an unstoppable trend
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Beer puts the overtaking of wine in the crosshairs

In Europe, where the goal is to reduce alcohol consumption by 10% by 2030, the decline has been underway for some time. At least on the wine front, where year after year there is an inexorable disaffection of new generations and an irreversible change in consumption and habits. According to OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine) data, Portugal held the record for per capita consumption in 2021, with 45 liters of wine consumed annually, followed by Italy (40 liters) and France (just over 38). Numbers that would make any other country pale, and it’s not surprising given that, as we’ve said before, wine is a cornerstone of Mediterranean culture, history, and diet.
Nonetheless, the same figures show a decline: in 1965, for example, the average consumption in Italy was 110.1 liters. Another world, another era, when Italy was in the midst of industrialization which, in the space of a few years, would have emptied the countryside and cemented the cities. 40 years are enough to see that figure erode by nearly two-thirds: in 2005 wine consumption reached 45.7 liters per capita per year. At that point, the revolution was complete. Accelerated recently by an infinite series of large and small events: the pandemic, the importance of healthy choices in the shopping cart and in everyday life, and further growth, parallel to the decline in consumption of wine, other alcoholic beverages, and, above all, beer.
Certainly not a novelty, but it was in the 1980s and 1990s (with the methanol scandal acting as a catalyst) that beer, a global, standardized drink produced in massive quantities and essentially cheap, exploded in Italy. In 2005, Italians drank 29.7 liters of beer per capita, which became 35.2 in 2021.
At these rates, it won’t take long to see the historic overtaking of wine, both in Italy and in France, where the gap is slightly wider: across the Alps, beer consumption has reached 32 liters per capita per year. What should make producers’ wrists tremble is the fact that the gap between beer lovers and wine lovers among young people is growing increasingly.
Remaining in France, among the under 35s, purchases of still wine, which in 2014 accounted for 31% of the total spirits, in 2021 fell to a share of 23%. Meanwhile, beer, which accounted for 24% of total alcohol spending, grew to 39%. And, despite starting from positions that are decidedly favorable to wine, the trend is also consistent among more mature consumer groups.
Things are not much different in Italy, where, according to Istat data from 2021, 49.3% of those aged 20-24 drink wine, and 59.2% drink beer. In the 25-34 age group, the gap is smaller but still in favor of beer: 58.3% drink wine, while 62.7% drink beer. The dynamics are nearly identical to the next age group, those aged 35 to 44 years, while the gap disappears between those aged 45-54 and the figure becomes favorable to wine from 55 years of age and upwards.

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