Tuesday 3 May 2016 5:39 pm

Cheers to that: Britain is now the "beating heart" of the global wine trade

Britain has become the "beating heart" and a "giant" of the global wine industry, according to research from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA). We'll drink to that.

Britain's wine trade has more than doubled in the last decade and has become a key hub for importing and distributing wine to 124 countries across the globe, the WSTA's 2016 Wine Report has found. 

France is the UK's biggest trading partner for wine, although the US, Moldova, Macau, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil also rank highly. 

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Wine is the UK's most popular tipple, with the equivalent of 30m drinking wine (more than one person per household). It should be no surprise, then, that Britain imports more wine per head than any other country – it is the world's second largest importer of wine by volume (behind Germany) and the second largest by value (behind the US). 

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:

Britain has become a global giant in the wine industry – something which is evident from the complex importing and exporting networks highlighted in the WSTA’s first ever annual Wine Report.

The UK is the sixth largest, and probably the most diverse, wine market in the world. We employ 170,000 people directly and a further 100,000 people in the supply chain including agricultural, technical and seasonal jobs.

Britain now has a huge capacity to import and package wine on home soil – making us a key hub for distribution domestically, but also to the EU and globally. The UK is the international wine industry’s destination of choice for onward distribution to the EU and other Northern hemisphere markets.

The "meteoric rise" in Britain's capacity to import and export wine is in part down to huge investment in bottling plants and results directly from the UK's reputation as the preferred point of entry into the EU's single market. 

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New bottling plants operating in the UK are packaging an estimated 600m bottles a year, creating thousands of jobs and dramatically cutting carbon emissions.

In total, the UK wine industry generates around £17.3bn in economic activity including sales worth £6.6bn for shops and supermarkets and £4bn for pubs, bars and restaurants.