America’s wine industry is booming.
But a new study from Michigan State Professor Philip Howard shows “industry” maybe something of a misnomer.
While you may see a wide variety of American labels at your local wine shop, the vast majority are merely offshoots of mega producers, most of them concentrated in California, Professor Howard found.
Here’s the incredible browsable map he’s produced (click to zoom):
“The top firms each contribute to an illusion of diverse ownership by offering dozens of brands (and hundreds of varieties), many of which do not clearly indicate the parent company on their label,” he wrote.
Professor Howard also produced this additional infographic looking at the industry’s concentration:
Although it is not at the same level as the beer and soft drink industries (where two firms control approximately three-quarters of all sales in the U.S.), the wine industry is becoming more concentrated each year. A large number of acquisitions and mergers have taken place in the past decade, such as Constellation Brands acquisitions of Mondavi ($1.3 billion in 2004), Vincor ($1.3 billion in 2006) and Fortune Brands’ wine business ($885 million in 2007). Although choices remain abundant, particularly for those with access to non-chain retailers, it is increasingly difficult for consumers to recognise which companies they are supporting with their purchases.
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