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Italian wine makers unite

Italian wine makers plan to form consortiums to beat back growing competition from "New World" wines.

by: Svetlana Kovalyova | 29 Oct 2007

Italy is the world's second-biggest wine producer, but together with other European wine makers from France and Spain it faces increasing pressure from rivals in the Americas, Australia and South Africa.

"The Italian model of 'small is beautiful' with a myriad of small wine makers who have made Italian wine well known in the world risks being thrown into a crisis by global competition and the super euro," organisers of the Salone Del Vino fair said in a statement, referring to the high value of the euro against other major currencies.

Italian wine sector is made up of more than 60 000 companies who make less than 50 million hectolitres of wine. Twenty-seven percent of it is sold abroad, said the fair organisers.

That compares with just 130 wine-producing companies in Chile who make 10 million hectolitres and sell 80 percent of it abroad.

In Australia, 300 wine producers export 75 percent of their 15 million hectolitre output, they said.

"Italian wine sector should adjust itself to the changing market conditions in order to boost its competitiveness," the organisers said.

They urged Italian wine makers to set up consortia to promote their product abroad, to boost marketing and cut costs.

Some small Italian wine producers, for example makers of famous Tuscan red Chianti or its upper-market cousins Rosso and Nobile di Montepulciano, have already joined forces to promote their wines abroad.

Foreign markets, especially Europe and the United States, are the main battleground for Italian wine makers who dominate their home market.

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