The closure of bars and restaurants to contain the spread of COVID-19 has reduced global wine sales considerably, and wine makers' revenues in Europe could be cut in half, the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) has claimed.

While wine sales are likely to expand once again once lockdowns are alleviated, the situation could bring permanent changes to the industry.

European manufacturers, specifically in France, Italy, as well as Spain, have asked for urgent assistance, with French winemakers being penalised by US tolls of 25% as part of Washington's response to EU airplane subsidies, in addition to the lockdowns.

"In Europe, the shutdown of this important channel of distribution might bring a reduction of 35% in volume and a reduction of almost 50% in sales," OIV director general Pau Roca told a webcast news conference, without giving a timeframe.

Roca said that circulation has actually moved to retailers and online purchases, but overall consumption is anticipated to go down, along with prices, hitting wine makers' turn over and productivity.

With global profits from wine at record highs last year, the shrinkage in the sector is comparable to that seen at the end of World War II, he added.

Mediterranean nations will certainly be most influenced as they count heavily on bars, restaurants as well as terraces, and tourism will remain limited even after lockdown actions are lifted.

" At this moment everybody concurs that the lockdown has actually had a damaging effect, possibly irreparable unless outstanding public resources for restoration are put forward," said Roca, whose organisation groups the governments of 47 wine-producing nations.

More Aid Needed
French agriculture minister Didier Guillaume said on Thursday 23 April that French winemakers are stifled, and have asked for even more aid from the EU.

" While certain countries are starting to reopen their harbours, it holds true for China for instance, for the near future the situation does not leave much room for optimism," he claimed on LCI information channel.

Both largest markets on the planet, Europe and the USA, might reduce their imports, he stated, and specified, "Trade flows may recoup with the economy, however some long-term modifications may occur."

The international wine trade - the global value of wine exports - topped €31.8 billion in 2019, a new record high, OIV said, with France leading the way with €9.8 billion exported.

On Monday 20 April, the European Union's executive projection that wine consumption in the bloc's 27 countries will certainly fall by 8% in the 2019/20 period contrasted to the average of the last five years.