The story behind the €200 million fund to destroy France’s surplus wine

france surplus wine

It might sound totally crazy for a wine-loving country, but France is co-supporting a €200 million fund with the EU to destroy more than 300 million litres of its wine stocks. Here’s why. 

The demand for wine has been slowly dropping off all around Europe in recent years. According to statistics from the European Commission (EC), consumption has fallen by 15% in France so far in 2023, but as much as 34% in other European Union (EU) member states.  

That, combined with prices so low that some producers say are tipping the balance from profit to loss, has led to a massive surplus of wine: an estimated 300 million litres or three million hectolitres. The regions of Bordeaux and Languedoc have been particularly affected, where as many as one in three winemakers are facing financial difficulties.  

On Friday 25th August, Minister for Agriculture Marc Fesneau announced that an initial fund of €160 million, which is being financed by the EU, would be topped up to the tune of €200 million by the French state.  

An industry that needs to adapt

The money will go towards helping wine producers pay for the distillation of their surpluses, transforming the wine into ethanol suitable for use by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, such as for the production of hand sanitising gel, cleaning products or even perfumes.  

Fesneau went on to add that the fund “aimed at stopping prices collapsing and so that winemakers can find sources of revenue again”, but emphasised the need for adaptation in the wine industry, stressing that producers should consider “consumer changes”.  

This is not the first time that the EU and France have had to step in to support the wine industry in this way. Another ways of reducing the excess of wine before it is bottled and put on sale is encouraging producers to pull up vines and replace them with more “in-demand” plantations, such as olive groves.  

According to EU figures, the EU spends in the region of €1 billion on supporting its wine industry – the biggest in the world – each year.  


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Photo source: Sigmund, Unsplash