The wine world’s leading lights

Since 1998, French intervention agency FranceAgriMer (previously Onivins then Viniflhor) has published an annual business intelligence report monitoring competition in the global marketplace. The report acts as an observatory whose main objectives are to analyse competition worldwide and identify the strengths and weakness of the leading producer countries. But which countries lead the way, and why? We take a closer look at the strengths of the top three countries, France, Spain and Italy.


  • Spearheading the competitive landscape in 2022
  • A focus on France’s strengths
  • A focus on Spain’s strengths
  • A focus on Italy’s strengths

Spearheading the competitive landscape in 2022

The 3 leading lights in the wine arena are the world’s top 3 wine producing countries. In 2021 – the year the recently published 2022 report focuses on – France resumed the top spot, wresting it from Italy which dropped to third place, after Spain. So basically, France is on the top step of the podium and Spain on the second step with Italy ranking third. As FranceAgriMer points out, however: “The scores posted by these three countries remain close and very high, confirming the long-standing vitality of these producer countries”.

A focus on France’s strengths

Among the many indicators used in the report, France boasts advantages and strengths that put it in first place this year. We cite the main drivers.

France is now the leading country for organic vineyard acreage, ahead of Spain and Italy.

Among European countries, the size of its wine farms is the largest – at 11 hectares on average in 2021 – as compared with an average of 1.7 hectares in Spain.

France is well placed in its sizeable domestic market, even though consumption in the country has been following a downward trend for several years and the pace of decline has quickened over the past few years. Currently, the world’s leading consumer country is the United States, with France in second place, ahead of Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy. These 5 countries account for 49% of consumption.

In export markets, the image and reputation of French wines are still particularly strong, and France knows how to leverage them, especially through its Champagnes. The resumption of international trade in the post-Covid world has benefited France in particular, with its exports by value topping 11 billion euros in 2021.

A focus on Spain’s strengths

After several years in third place, Spain ranked second in 2021.

The Spanish wine industry has the largest area under vine for wine production, despite the downward trend witnessed over the past few years.

Spain has also reached the second spot for its acreage of organic wine-grape vineyards, ahead of Italy.

It is also the world’s leading exporter country by volume. In 2021, it posted its highest export level by volume since 2015, with consignments reaching nearly 24 million hectolitres. However, as the report points out, a large chunk of its exports are in bulk and therefore price points remain low.

Lastly, Spain has also welcomed a positive new indicator – its share of e-shoppers, or online buyers, totals 93%, placing Spain at the top of the list of 13 countries featured in the report.

Spain boasts a good image internationally, although it still lags behind its French and Italian rivals. The 2022 competition report comments that “its businesses are very active”, and that “the Spanish wine industry seems increasingly dynamic, buoyed by extensive research in many areas”.

A focus on Italy’s strengths

Since 2015, Italy has continued to rank as the world’s largest wine producing country with 50 million hectolitres in 2021. The same year, yields came in at over 80 hl/ha, compared with 57.6 hl/ha for France and just 44.1 hl/ha for Spain.

Italy has the ability to leverage its excellent production capacity to perform well in export markets by volume, claiming a 20% market share in 2021, significantly higher than France at 14%, and virtually on a par with Spain (21%). As the research stresses: “The success of Prosecco and other Italian sparkling wines has helped boost the average price of Italian bottled wines sold in export markets”.

Other positive attributes for Italy pinpointed by the report include the growth in domestic wine consumption, along with the reputation of its wines internationally, even though, from this perspective, France continues to lead the way.

Anne Schoendoerffer, © AdobeStock

Sources :  France Agrimer.     Download a summary of the report