France maintained its title as the world's largest wine producer in 1997. The 1997 wine output is estimated at 55.5 million hectoliters, down 7 percent from the previous year because of lack of rain. Also in certain regions in France, mainly the Southwest, some vines were affected by diseases which resulted in severe damage and a decrease in production. The decline will affect mainly table wine instead of "quality" (VQPRD) wine. The 3 largest French wine producing regions (Languedoc-Roussillon, Charentes/Aquitaine, and Provence/Alps/Cote d'Azur) represented 72 percent of total French production.
France also leads the world in per capita consumption of wine. French wine consumption is estimated at 60 liters, down more than 50 percent since 1970. In response to increasing competition in Europe and in view of changing consumer preferences in France and foreign countries, ONIVINS and SOPEXA have launched advertising campaigns targeting both domestic and export markets. On the domestic side, campaigns focus on regional wines; however, the focus is on "quality" (VQPRD) wines for international markets.
In 1996, the total value of French wine exports increased 9 percent from the previous year to $4.8 billion. French wine exports in 1996 totaled 13.6 million hl, up 13 percent from the previous year. French exports represent more than 30 percent of total French production, or one bottle out of every three bottles. Other EU member states remain the largest export markets for French wine. Other growing markets for French wine include Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia. French exports to the United Kingdom ($84 million), Germany ($84 million), and the United States ($64 million) increased by 10 percent.
Total French imports in 1996 decreased 14 percent in volume to 5.2 million hl and increased 4 percent in value to $509 million. Most of the French imports consist of bulk table wine, representing 68 percent of total wine imports. France's major suppliers were Italy, Portugal and Spain, with each supplying respectively 3.3 million hl, 0.5 million hl, and 0.8 million hl.