PORTLAND, OR, June 21, 2012… With one of the nation’s lowest levels of investment in research, the wine industry is seriously jeopardizing its ability to compete, Dr. Roger Boulton told nearly 500 professionals gathered here today at the American Society for Enology and Viticulture’s (ASEV) National Conference.
While American industry averages a 3 percent investment of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in research and development, and the majority of Western nations dedicate an average of at least 1 percent, the meager investment in wine research has lagged dismally behind at less than 5/100th of one percent of value, explained the U.C. Davis Stephen Sinclair Scott Professor of Enology in his ASEV’s Merit Award address. As a consequence, Boulton warned, the American wine industry can expect slower growth, less competitiveness and a significant delay in moving research to production.
To provide perspective, Boulton pointed out that if the American wine industry were to appropriately fund research, it would take $100 million to even catch up to their Australian counterparts because of underfunding for the past 30 years. Instead, the industry invests just $300,000 in wine research annually. Even the American peanut industry, Boulton said, is investing more than eight times as much in R&D as the wine and grape industry combined.
“The consequences are considerable and cumulative,” Boulton said. “For thirty years we’ve been underfunding our research and development. Now, we’re seeing the results in lost human capital and declining intellectual capital – the essential component driving companies like Google.”
Speaking to industry professionals gathered from around the world, Boulton called on the industry to modernize its research by investing 1 percent of wine value in research and development. In addition to funding researchers, he emphasized the need to also invest in key facilities, analytical and research equipment, and support staff.
The industry’s largest association of wine and grape professionals, the ASEV promotes industry vitality through the exchange of information and the support of research and education. The 64th ASEV National Conference will be held in Monterey, California, from June 24 – 28, 2013. For more information, visit www.asev.org.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Full text of Dr. Boulton’s Merit Award presentation, including charts, will be posted to the ASEV site at asev.org shortly.