August 10/Norwalk, Conn./PRNewswire/ -- As the U.S. economy slowly recovers, the wine industry is regaining its momentum to mark the 17th consecutive year of case gains.  This positive direction is directly attributed to the improving economy and the resulting increase in consumer confidence.  Consumers are beginning to spend again and competition in the marketplace is fierce. According to the Beverage Information Group's recently released2011 Wine Handbook, overall wine consumption rose 2.1% to 303.1 million 9-liter cases in 2010. 

The dollar's weaker value has resulted in a good market for exports. Imports continue to be outpaced by their domestic counterparts. This trend has been seen over the past several years partially due to currency issues shrinking importers' margins. Domestics rose 3.0% to 229.4 million cases, and imported wines lost 0.9% to end the year at 73.6 million cases. In addition, Australian wines were down by 12.5%, and wine imports from Italy have taken the lead.

According to the 2011 Wine Handbook, consumers are slowly returning to dining out. Total wine dollars grew to $26.9 billion last year with on-premise accounting for 44.1%. This is a gain of 2.5% from 2009 and a change from the previous two years when the recession directly effected on-premise sales.

"The future of the wine industry looks bright," says Eric Schmidt, manager of Information Services for the Beverage Information Group based in Norwalk, Conn.  "Overall wine consumption is expected to increase over the next five years to 321.9 million cases."

From the August 10, 2011,Prepared Foods' Daily News.