Wine makers see no reason to cheer for ‘a long time’

Social distancing has hit consumption; industry at complete standstill

The country’s wine industry says it has no reason to cheer this year with the entire ‘eating-out’ segment, across restaurants, hotels and banquets, having vanished all of a sudden with the COVID-19 outbreak.

The All India Wine Producers Association (AIWPA) said it was currently unable to see where the industry was headed as the whole chunk of on-premise market, that comprised restaurants, fine-dining, hotels, five star banquets, clubs, resorts, bars and lounges, was fully shut with the lockdown. Yatin Patil, president, AIWPA told The Hindu that, “On-premise, which accounts for over 40% of wine sales, is going to take a lot more time to come back as social distancing is likely to continue; for how long, no one knows.

“We hope people who used to consume wine in restaurants will now start bringing them home and therefore, the net sales decline of the industry will be minimised by at least 20%.” Abhay Kewadkar, MD, Tetrad Global Beverages, said the lockdown had brought the wine industry to a complete standstill. ”The stakeholders in the industry, including winemakers, vineyard owners, farmers, support staff, others in the supply chain and consumers are affected. In India, wine is predominantly a social beverage and its consumption outside home will suffer as long as social distancing norms are continued,” he said.

However, retailing can be boosted if the government allows sale of wines in grocery stores under essentials, added Mr. Kewadkar, an industry veteran with over 30 years of experience.

Call-in facility

AIWPA had been lobbying with the government for a wine call-in facility though phone calls or e-mails.

“However, the government has been rejecting our requests repeatedly for several years,’’ added Mr. Patil.

As per Rajeev Samant, CEO, Sula Vineyards, in the current scenario, a sales decline of 20-25% was expected, compared with last year.

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