Wine sales forecast to rise 8% by 1997

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THE British public's palate for wine shows no signs of souring, with volume sales in the UK forecast to grow by 8 per cent from 744 million litres in 1992 to 803 million in 1997.

Prices are also set to move ahead, having fallen slightly last year as consumers traded down to lower-priced wines.

Le Piat d'Or, one of many brands in the International Distillers and Vintners stable, is the market leader, particularly in the predominant light still wine sector.

The total value of wine sold in the UK in 1992 was pounds 3.6bn, and should top pounds 5bn in 1997, according to a report by Euromonitor, the market research company.

Euromonitor says volume sales of light wines are forecast to increase by 39 million litres to 610 million litres in 1997, although that category's share of the market looks set to ease from 76.7 to 76 per cent.

Sales of British-made wines are expected to rise by only 2 million litres to 71 million, and experience a decline in market share from 9.3 to 8.8 per cent.

Demographic trends, however, favour heavier wines. Fortified wine is expected to grow gradually. Last year's sales of 36 million litres are seen as rising to 44 million litres in 1997.

That sector of the market, particularly for sherry and port, will benefit from the ageing of the population.

Sources of wine, Euromonitor adds, will become even more diverse, as countries such as Argentina, Russia, China, the Ukraine and South Africa increase their UK wine business.