It's confirmed: Britsoutdrink the French

29th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

It's not the kind of international competition you normally win medals for, but a new study confirms that the Brits are drinking more than these days than the French. They're even -- quel horreur! - catching up with wine drinking as the French increasingly refill the water glass instead.

The British are buying more and more alcohol, and the French and Germans less, according to an August report into the drinking habits of citizens in Europe's three leading nations.

Prepared by the market research group Mintel, the report reveals that 88 percent of Britons helped themsleves to beer, wine or spirits in the last year. This compares to 86 percent for the French and 70 percent for Germans.

Brits drink more booze, but the French still drink more wine

According to Mintel's research , 67.2 percent of people in France consumed wine at some point in the previous year but that's just ahead of the 63.9 percent found in Britain. Only 34.2 percent of Germans drank any wine last year.

Alcohol sales in Britain rose by 5 percent between 1999 and 2004, breaking the 8bn litre barrier. These particular findings are likely to add to the British debate over 'binge drinking' among Britons and controversial proposals to let pubs and bars stay open 24 hours a day if they seek a licence to do so.

But at the same time, the figures reflect profound changes in the huge wine and spirits industry. In France, wine production in particular is a significant contributor to the economy, both in terms of domestic consumption and export. 

But alcohol consumption is declining due to changes in lifestyle and recent government crackdowns on drinking and driving; the country's proudest industry has also been under atack in recent years by imports from up-and-coming wine-producing nations such as Chile and Australia.

*sidebar1*So numbers like this latest study from Mintel are likely to be meet with dismay by French economists and they confirm what has been long known in France: the French love of wine appears to be waning.

Sales dropped by 4 percent between 1999 and 2004, not including wine sold for export. Wine sales in Britain during that time rose by 23 percent.

The growing popularity of wine in Britain was put down by Mintel to rising incomes, more "aspirational" drinking habits and the popularity of wine amongst female drinkers.

"While wine remains the largest alcoholic drinks sector in France, it is losing its traditional and central role as a meal accompaniment," consumer analyst Hanna Kivimake said. "For many, water has become a more common drink at meal times."

That said, wine consumption remains far greater in France, where 3.35 billion litres were imbibed last year  compared with 1.19 billion litres in Britain and 1.98 billion litres in Germany.

If one broadens the category to include all spirits, Britain's alcohol market has enjoyed the biggest rise in value, according to the Mintel study, with sales estimated at EUR 56bn last year -- up 15 percent since 1999.

French spending on alcohol increased by 7 percent to EUR 42bn in the same five-year period, although volume sales were down 6 percent to just under 6bn litres. In Germany, the alcohol market dropped by almost 4 percent to EUR 47bn.

In all three countries, men were the biggest drinkers, Mintel added.

August 2005

Copyright AFP and Expatica

Subject: French news, wine, beer, spirits, drinking, Mintel

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