Italians’ thirst for wine diminishes as younger generation turns to beer

Italy, a country that has produced wine for centuries, is seeing dramatic drops in wine consumption as a younger generation reaches instead for beer.

Wine Monitor Nomisma, an Italian site that follows the wine market, reports on new data on the country’s wine consumption: In 2012, consumption dropped 3.6%. Troubling, but not severe. But just twelve months later, for 2013, it nosedived 6.5%. During the same period, however, the total value of wine sales increased by 3.5%, but that’s only because of a price increase of 7.9%.

The slowdown in wine sales has roots in the past. In just five years, per a Wine Monitor press release in Italian, the economic crisis has taken its toll. The monthly expenditure per capita on wine went from 5.2 euros (about $7.15) to 5 euros ($6.87) while money spent on beer jumped from 2 euros ($2.75) in 2007 to 2.5 euros ($3.45) in 2012.

But the reduction in wine consumption in Italy cannot be explained solely by the economic crisis. It’s not just that people are consuming less: they’re consuming differently.

Wine consumers who have drunk wine on at least one occasion make up 85% of the Italian population over 18—that’s 44 million wine consumers. So what’s the problem?


What has changed is the way of life.

The older generation drinks four times as much as the younger generation on average. That figure has got to be very troubling to wine producers. Beyond that, the over-60 crowd tends to consume wine every day, mostly with a meal, while the young only turn to wine for a special occasion or a convivial moment. Wine is what their parents and grandparents drink.

What’s the solution?

Advertising. According to the report, in the last 12 months, three consumers out of 10 have bought a wine because they saw it advertised. And of that group, 21% have been induced to try a new wine because of a television cooking show.

If the same holds true in this country, Food Network could become a powerhouse for wine sales.


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