The Wine Organization fears measures in Europe to discourage its consumption

February 4, 2022

Geneva, Feb 4 (EFE) .- Wine could receive in Europe a treatment similar to that of tobacco to discourage its consumption if the European Parliament approves a report in the middle of this month that indicates that there is no consumption of alcohol without health risks , said today the president of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), Pau Roca. Roca went to the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO), in Geneva, where he met with the head of the “Less Alcohol Unit” to discuss another report recently approved by the organization’s Executive Committee that also seeks to promote a series of public policies among Member States to reduce alcohol consumption. The document – which specifically proposes that by 2025 the harmful consumption of alcohol be reduced by 20% with respect to 2010 levels – will be presented for approval at the WHO Annual Assembly next May. According to Roca, in none of the discussions on alcohol consumption, in the European Union or in the WHO, has a distinction been made between the different types of alcohol according to their strength, nor have they considered “the specificities or appearance culture of wine, with vineyard regions considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO”. “In addition, the wine sector has a very different economic structure (from the rest of the alcohol products industry), as it is linked to the territory, the farmer is very empowered and it is a sector in which the multinationals have no interest because it is very difficult to consolidate and the territorial element prevails in the identification (of the wine) over the brand,” Roca explained in statements to Efe. According to the representative of the OVI (intergovernmental entity that has 48 member states), the European Union initiative “delegitimizes wine and follows the dangerous trend of comparing it to tobacco, showing a lack of knowledge of the richness of the product.” Europe produces 70% of the world’s wine in terms of value and is the European agri-food product that is also exported the most in terms of value, according to data from the European Committee of Wine Companies, which estimates the direct jobs it generates on the continent at 3 million . Spain is the world’s third largest producer of wine, the first exporter by volume and the third in value, and this sector supports 215,000 direct jobs in this country, according to the Spanish Wine Federation. Roca said he fears that in the future wine will be labeled with graphic warnings about the product’s health risks, similar to those that appear today on cigarette packaging, among other restrictive measures. He also argued that countries that export wine to the EU, such as Argentina, have already expressed concern about the impact that such measures could have on their exports to the community market. Roca commented that the OVI has the mandate to collaborate with encouraging responsible levels of wine consumption and that it will continue to do so in the event that one or both initiatives, in the European Parliament and the WHO, are endorsed.