American wine lovers are worried. With the dollar scraping the bottom of the foreign exchange barrel, they fear their favorite French Bordeaux or Italian Barolo could become unaffordable.
But wine experts in the U.S. say there is no reason to panic, AFP reports.
“Logically, with the weak dollar, you would think there would be an avalanche of wines going out, and a shut-out of European wines coming into the United States,” Jon Frederikson of the California-based Gomberg-Frederikson wine consultancy told AFP.
“Remarkably, though, imports are continuing to come in because demand here is quite strong and prospects for growth over the next decade are excellent,” he said.
“Wine is finally gaining some traction in the US. Consumption is still very low compared with other beverages and other nations, but the likelihood that sales will grow is very good.”
“So people around the world are swallowing the very heavy foreign exchange losses and making an investment to get into the U.S. market and gain customer loyalty.”
Statistics compiled by Sopexa, a French government agency that promotes French food and agricultural products worldwide, showed the euro-dollar exchange rate averaged one euro to 1.206 dollars during the first six months of 2006, and one euro to 1.316 dollars in the same period this year, representing a change of around 9 percent.
In the same period, the volume of French still wine exported to the United States rose by 2.8 percent, but the value of exports in euros to the American market declined by 4.2 percent.
Exports from every major nation were up in the first half of this year, Frederikson said.
“Italy, which is the largest exporter to the U.S. in volume, was up 11 percent. France, which was the biggest exporter in value last year, with $720 million, was up 10 percent in volume.”
The volume of wines from Germany, Portugal and Spain also was up, he said.