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Sweden heads toward new wine sales record

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Sweden heads toward new wine sales record
08:46 CET+01:00
More than 170 million litres of wine are expected to fly off the shelves of Sweden's state-owned alcohol monopoly Systembolaget by the end of 2009, setting a new record.

However, Swedes are not the only ones imbibing more, as the number of customers from Sweden's neighbours has risen sharply as well, according to Systembolaget.

Wine sales in Sweden for 2009 had already surpassed last year's record of 161 million litres by early November, not including strong wines.

And if sales in December don't fall below figures recorded for the same month in 2008, the new wine sales record would be at least 174 million litres, statistics from Systembolaget show.

For the third year in a row, the annual increase in wine sales is greater than the total sales of other spirits, indicating that wine continues to be an increasingly important part of the alcohol monopoly's sales volumes.

Wine sales have nearly doubled since 1996, the first year that boxed wines were introduced into Systembolaget retail outlets.

Today, boxed wines account for roughly half of all wine sales, and are thought to be an important part of Sweden's booming wine sales.

“But it also has to do with long term changes in Swedes' alcohol consumption to a more European style of consumption. It can also be a question of health,” Elisabeth Engelsen Ellqvist, marketing director with Bibendum, one of Sweden's largest wine importers, told the TT news agency.

Systembolaget also attributes much of its sales increase to the weak krona, which has not only resulted in more Swedes buying booze in Sweden, but also attracted new customers from Norway, Denmark, and Finland.

The weak krona has also put pressure on the bottom lines of wine importers, however, resulting in two price hikes at Systembolaget stores during the year.

The price rises do not appear to have dampened customers' appetite for alcohol, however, even if customers who buy wine are “extremely price sensitive”, according to Engelsen Ellqvist.

“In Sweden we offer really great quality for the money, even after the price rises. And as long as the customers still think the product is worth it, they'll pay to buy it,” she told TT.

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