The UK’s cheap wine culture is forcing wine suppliers to abandon the UK for “easier” and more lucrative markets, a leading industry figure has warned.

While the UK was once a key market, some producers now perceived it as “too tough”, said Michael Saunders, MD of independent wine supplier Bibendum.

“The UK has a pretty poor reputation for being willing to pay the price for the right wines, which is a real challenge,” he said. Some producers were already starting to pursue growth in “easier” markets, he added.

The annual Vinexpo report on global wine consumption, published this week, highlighted the opportunities in growing markets such as China and Russia, where consumption is forecast to rise 39.7% and 17.8% respectively by 2016. UK consumption is predicted to continue its long-term decline, with the study predicting retail sales would fall 3.6% by value and 7.9% by volume over the next three years.

The UK industry needed to wean consumers off shopping for price, added Saunders. “We’ve got to take our consumers to a space where they will pay a reasonable amount of money for reasonable quality,” he said.