Wine in Belgium, import-export and consumption statistics

When you ask wine producers what their main export markets are you often hear things like Great Britain, the USA, Germany, today sometimes even China etc. And if you then ask “You mean you don’t export much to Belgium?” you get the reaction “well, yes, of course, that’s one of our most important markets. But it’s not really export”…

Belgium certainly is a big export market for French wines, so it is interesting to take a look at it, which a recent article in the eminent Belgium wine magazine In Vino Veritas gave us the opportunity to do. It is based on a report on Belgium made by Business France (ex-UbiFrance).

Belgian market for wine

Belgian market for wine

Here’s some of the data from the report and from In Vino Veritas.

  • Belgium is the world’s 5th biggest wine importer, taking 5% of world imports.
  • France is a big supplier: Belgium is the 3rd biggest destination country for French wine exports counted in volume and 4th counted in value. (Why do they buy so cheap wines?)
  • The not more than 12 million Belgians buy some 300 million bottles (still) wine each year. (Approximately the same number of bottles that Champagne produces of sparkling wine each year.)
  • Belgium is one of the top 3 export markets for France
  • Belgians drink more French wine than most nationalities

These numbers are even more remarkable if you think about the proximity of the two countries (being neighbours) and what Belgians do for a fun weekend or vacation: They go south across the border to France, to visit some vineyards and to buy wine.

All the wine that the Belgians have bought in France and then take home in the car – and that is a lot of wine! – is not counted in most statistics. And probably not in these quoted here either. That makes Belgium an even bigger wine buyer.

  • Belgian wine consumption, per person and year:
    • 25 litres still wine, up from 18 l per capita twenty years ago.
    • 4 litres sparkling wine.
    • Wow! 14% of all wine consumed in Belgium is sparkling.
    • In value sparkling wine represents 22% of the total and still wines 78%. As always, this price premium for bubbles. No surprise producers everywhere want to make bubbles.
  • Total imports in 2014: 3.12 million hl worth a whisker less than 1 billion euro.
  • Imports have grown over ten years with +19% in value and +8% in volume.
  • Wine only (!) accounts for 19% of household expense for drinks:
    • 34% of household drinks spending is on soft drinks and juice!
    • 19% on wine
    • 13% on beer (and they do have some excellent ones in Belgium!)
    • 13% on hot drinks
    • 11% on spirits
    • 10% on water
  • Price segmentation:
    • <2.5 euro, represents 45% of the market
    • 5—3.5 euro, represents 25% of the market
    • 5—5 euro, 20% of the market
    • >5 euro, 10% of the market

You can buy the 65 page report from Business France for 80 euro.

Closed grocery shop in Languedoc

Closed grocery shop in Languedoc, copyright BKWine Photography

This post is also available in: Swedish

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