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Global wine output squeezed as coronavirus crisis weighs

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: A grape picker wearing a face mask works during the wine harvest at the Domaine du Chant D'Eole vineyard in Quevy-le-Grand, Belgium

Global wine output squeezed as coronavirus crisis weighs

FILE PHOTO: A grape picker wearing a face mask works during the wine harvest at the Domaine du Chant D'Eole vineyard in Quevy-le-Grand, Belgium

PARIS (Reuters) - Global wine production will remain below the five-year average this year, dented by low South American volumes and European Union output caps after the coronavirus crisis sent sales sliding, an international industry body said on Tuesday.

In initial estimates for 2020 output, the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) pegged this year's world wine production at between 253.9 million and 262.2 million hectolitres (mhl), with a mid‑range estimate at 258 mhl.

It was the second consecutive year that global wine output remained below average after rising to near-record highs in 2018, the Paris-based organisation said.

"This is not necessarily to be considered bad news for the wine sector, given the current context, where geopolitical tensions, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are generating a high degree of volatility and uncertainty in the global wine market," OIV said in a presentation.

In the European Union, vineyards benefited from good weather conditions but output remained lower than average as producers and governments limited production to counter the negative impact from the pandemic, OIV said.

In France, for example, champagne producers agreed to collect about 20% less grapes this year as they tried to recover from a collapse in sales caused by the coronavirus crisis.

OIV expects EU states, which include the world's three largest wine producers - Italy, France and Spain - at 159 mhl, up 5% on 2019 but still below average.

One hectolitre accounts for 133 standard bottles.

In the Southern hemisphere, total 2020 output is estimated to fall by 8% from 2019 to 49 mhl, mainly owing to sharp falls in Argentina (-17% from 2019), Chile (-13%) and Australia (-11%), OIV said.

In the United States, preliminary estimates put wine output at 24.7 mhl, up 1% on 2019, but the forecast could be revised when more information on the effects of wildfires in the Napa and Sonoma regions emerges in the coming months, OIV said.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by David Goodman)