Monday, 5 September 2016

World wine production: 1889 versus 2012

As I discussed for the USA in a recent blog post (United States wine production: 1880 versus 2015), world wine production has increased over the past century and a half. There was a set-back in production and consumption during the years of Prohibition in countries like the USA and Canada; and several countries were wine producers when they were European colonies but are not now, notably Algeria. Nevertheless, there has also been a dramatic increase since 1970 in many countries, such as Argentina, Australia, Chile, South Africa and the USA. It therefore could be of interest to make some sort of quantitative comparison of "then" versus now.

The data that I have used are for the years 1889 and 2012, and come from these two sources:
In both sources, annual wine production data are provided in hectolitres for each country for which there was significant wine volume at the time, and hectares for the total vineyard area.

The vineyard data are shown in the first graph (click to enlarge). In the scatterplot, each point represents a single country, located according to its vineyard area during 1889 (horizontally) and 2012 (vertically). Note that the Austro-Hungarian empire still existed in 1889, so I have pooled the following modern countries together, for the 2012 comparison: Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

World vineyard area in 1889 and 2012

If the countries still had the same vineyard area today as they did in the late 1880s, then the points would lie on or near the pink line. Countries to the right and below the line had more vineyard area in 1889 then they do now, and those above and to the left of the line have more now than they did back then.

Clearly, both France and Italy have dramatically reduced their vineyard area, to about 40% of what it was in 1889; and for the Austria-Hungary group it is down to 30% (about 50% of the current area is in Austria and Hungary). The biggest increases in area are for Turkey and the USA. Clearly, in Turkey's case the grapes are used for eating rather than for wine-making; as would also be true for China, which is not in the graph (due to lack of data from 1889).

World wine production in 1889 and 2012

So, we can move on to actual wine production, which is shown in the second graph. The scatterplot is interpreted in the same way.

The only obvious reduction in wine production since 1889 is for the Austria-Hungary group, where wine production is down to 65%. However, although small, wine production in Algeria is down to 20% of the 1889 level, and in Turkey it is down to 36%. In both countries there is little local consumption of wine, for religious reasons.

Anyway, the reductions in vineyard area in France and Italy over the past 120 years have apparently not been associated with a reduction in wine production. This combined pattern can be seen more clearly if we look at wine production per area of vineyard (ie. hectolitres of wine produced per hectare of vineyard). This is shown in the third graph.

World wine production per hectare in 1889 and 2012

This shows that in 1889 there was not all that much difference among the countries in wine production per vineyard area (all of them with <0.03 hectolitres per hectare), but this has changed a lot since then. There are 11 countries that have dramatically increased their production per hectare, 7 that have increased their wine production but less dramatically, and 3 that have decreased their production.

Among the decreasers, Mexico hardly had any vineyard area in 1889, since the climate is not really very suitable for grape growing, so its apparent decrease is due to a larger increase in vineyard area than in wine production. Turkey has increased its vineyard area while simultaneously reducing wine production, and now uses the vineyards mostly for eating grapes. The spectacular rise and fall of Algerian wine production is discussed by Giulia Meloni and Johan Swinnen (2014. The rise and fall of the world’s largest wine exporter — and its institutional legacy. Journal of Wine Economics 9, 3-33) — there are also several popular versions of this paper around the web.

For France and Italy, wine production per hectare has increased while their vineyard area has decreased, so that their total wine production has increased. Presumably this reflects more efficient vineyard and wine-making practices. Spain, the world's other big wine producer, has apparently not changed its wine industry to anywhere near the same extent.

It is trivially obvious that the so-called "new world" wine producers, notably Argentina, Australia, Chile, South Africa and the USA, have all greatly increased wine production from their vineyard areas at some time during the past 5 decades, and most of these are also continuing to increase their vineyard area, as well.

It is probably less well known that some old-world producers have also changed their wine-making practices. Russia has more than halved its vineyard area since 1889, but it has simultaneously increased wine production per hectare more than anyone else. Germany has reduced its vineyard area to 90% of its 1889 level, but has more than doubled overall wine production. Serbia has halved its vineyard area while still maintaining its overall wine production at its previous level.

Globally, based on the countries included in the dataset, the "old world" countries have reduced their vineyard area to 55% of the 1889 level, while simultaneously increasing their wine production to 150%. In the meantime, the "new world" wine producers have increased their vineyard area to 150% and their wine production to 400% of the old levels.

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