• Covid-19 Hub: Drinks industry’s hopes on MPs’ Brexit inquiry

    As we all start to take serious steps of coming out of lockdown, The Buyer has switched its Covid-19 Hub updates service to a new weekly format to help the trade keep up to date with the very latest activity, trends and insights across the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors as momentum builds towards opening up more areas of business we will look to share more knowledge and tools to help you do that. This is Part Seven of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog kicking off all the activity in what is going to be a vital month for the UK drinks and hospitality sectors.

    As we all start to take serious steps of coming out of lockdown, The Buyer has switched its Covid-19 Hub updates service to a new weekly format to help the trade keep up to date with the very latest activity, trends and insights across the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors as momentum builds towards opening up more areas of business we will look to share more knowledge and tools to help you do that. This is Part Seven of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog kicking off all the activity in what is going to be a vital month for the UK drinks and hospitality sectors.

    mm By July 18, 2020

    The first six parts of The Buyer Covid-19 Hub include the first back in March,  the second in April, the third in May followed by the most recent Hubs from mid May through to early June  and the fifth and six Hubs through June here and here. 

    The Buyer’s Covid-19 rolling hub has been selected as one of the best in the country amongst specialist business media by the UK Press Gazette, the industry bible for journalists, in its Coronavirus Excellence Journalism initiative.

    July 10

    Wine industry gets chance to have its say on V1-1 forms in new Parliamentary inquiry

    The wine industry has the chance to tell the government what it thinks about V1-1 forms

    The UK wine industry has been given the chance to make clear to the government just how damaging its proposed rules for importing wine from the EU post Brexit will be for the sector.

    Earlier this month The Buyer set out in detail just how potentially devastating the new rules could be for wine importers, retailers, and on-trade groups buying wine from the EU.

    As it stands the new procedures would mean any batch of wine would be subject to a laboratory test taking place and the costly steps of filling in what is known as a VI-1 form – at a potential cost of over £300 each and £70m to the overall industry.

    Currently there is no need to fill in a form or carry out such tests for the 55% of wine that is consumed in the UK that is imported from the EU. The new certification rules are due to come in place on January 1 2021, with or without a Brexit deal.

    All party action 

    The WSTA’s Miles Beale is urging as many people in the industry as possible to have their say

    A parliamentary inquiry has now been set up, starting next week that will look into the impact of wine import certification. The Wine and Spirit All-Party Parliamentary Group is to lead the inquiry and is calling on the wine industry to provide it with the evidence it needs to make the government think again. 

    The Wine & Spirit Trade Association is looking to do what it can to co-ordinate action across the industry by submitting evidence via the WSTA website.

    Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “It is extremely important the UK wine trade takes this opportunity to tell government how their businesses will be impacted by the introduction of VI-1 certification.

    It is entirely within the government’s gift to avoid imposing these complicated, costly and unnecessary checks. Politicians need to better understand this issue, which if it isn’t handle properly will see the UK’s world leading wine industry facing a catastrophic disruption to trade.”

    Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark and the co-Chair of the APPG for Wines and Spirits said: “It is essential that government listens to the UK wine industry’s concerns. Failing to do so will lead to price rises for importers, retailers and ultimately consumers, and could threaten the UK’s position as the global hub for wine.”

    The industry has until August 17 to submit evidence and the WSTA has issued guidance on its website on how to respond and urges the trade to act quickly and get its responses back by July 22 and the House of Commons summer recess. Some of the key messages are below:

    • Evidence should clearly state whether it has been submitted by an individual or an organisation.
    • Written evidence should not exceed 3,000 words in length.
    • There is no requirement to answer all the questions in the Terms of Reference (TOR) and it is acceptable for submissions to respond to only one or two questions.
    • All submissions should include an executive summary of evidence as bullet points.
    • You must submit your evidence in Word.
    • Please indicate in your submission if you wish to give oral evidence to the Committee. The Committee makes no guarantee that all those who indicate they are available to provide oral evidence will be asked to do so due to time and resource constraints.
    • Written submissions should be sent to rebekah@wsta.co.uk.

    The call for evidence and terms of reference can be found on this page on the APPG’s secretariat (WSTA’s) website

    Vast majority of wine trade would be happy to go back to face to face tastings – if they’re safe… 

    Austrian wine
    Small, cramped, low ceiling venues may not cut the mustard in the future  – but get the venue right and the majority of people will return to wine tastings

    We might all be currently happy zooming away with each other and taking part in the vast range of online tastings that have been taking place throughout the Covid-19 lockdown. But given the chance the vast majority of people in the wine industry – 85% in fact – would be happy to go back to face to face tastings providing it was safe to do so.

    That’s the headline figure from research carried out over the last month by leading PR agencies, generic wine bodies and tasting organisers into the Future of Wine Tastings. In all the survey received 660 replies and has been able to set out a route by which trade tastings could come back.

    Clearly any tasting will have to have the highest of high hygiene and safety standards with social distancing a must.

    Here are the main findings:

    • 43.5% strongly agreed, and almost 42%, agreed that they would attend tastings where organisers provide adequate safety measures.Open air/ open sided marquees scored over 78%+ for popularity (strongly agreed/agreed).
    • 49% of those living outside a city either strongly agreed or agreed they would be willing to travel to attend.
    • 92% would like to see temperature testing at the door and 89% would be happy to provide full details for track and trace.
    • 82% strongly/agreed to a staggered entry, although 52% only were interested in pre-booked appointments.
    • 89% would like to see pre-registering and no walk-ins.
    • 51% disagreed there was a need to bring their own glass.
    • 78% responded said they would like to be supplied with one properly sanitised glass to use throughout the event.
    • 78% agreed to having an individual spittoon.
    • 66% said food would not be an essential requirement to attend.
    • 68% agreed with the proposal of a one-way route through the tasting.
    • 84% of respondents said that they would attend socially distanced master classes.
    • 62% said they would attend a masterclass if the winemakers or speaker where shown on a large screen live via Zoom/Skype Pro etc.
    • 43% responded that they would prefer wines to be sent to them and have a Zoom tasting rather than go to a venue.

    Drinks Trust launches videos to promote new Wellness Services

    The Drinks Trust has produced a series of videos to help promote the new range of Wellness Services it has introduced to help give members of the trade free support who might need extra help during this time with their own personal health and well being.

    The videos are being released every Tuesday over the following month and feature The Buyer’s Richard Siddle interviewing the leaders of each of the Wellness services being offered.

    The Wellness Services include:

    • Guidance for every day health: Resident wellness and leadership coach, Kat Hounsell (founding director, Everyday People) will be delivering tips and tricks to care for your holistic health.
    • Talking Therapies with Dr Julian: Dr Julian has brought together a range of highly experienced therapists/psychologists, all with Master’s Degree level training or above, who offer psychological therapy, through on-line video sessions and instantaneous text, that you can have on your phone, tablet or computer whenever and wherever you want. The Dr Julian services are commissioned by NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies to provide mental health support on the NHS however The Drinks Trust will make an initial investment of £80,000 to provide online video therapy services to the drinks industry.
    • Mindful Drinking: The Drinks Trust is partnering with Club Soda, the Mindful Drinking Movement, who have helped numerous people to change their approach to alcohol. The service is not for those who have significant dependent issues but is rather designed for those who want to reassess their approach to drinking, with the outcome of leading a sustainable and productive career in the drinks industry.
    • Sleep & Insomnia: The Drinks Trust will be inviting 300 individuals to undertake a week-long sleep and insomnia assessment, with 150 then qualifying for a month-long treatment programme. This service is delivered through app-based technologies and assessment tools, together with a live consultancy from trained sleep and insomnia specialist. The service is delivered by Sleepstation, the leading UK provider of sleep and insomnia treatment to the NHS.

    Klopp…Guinness…as if by magic thanks to Ripples

    It's definitely time for one of these now that lockdown is done :-)Klopp on a guinness, what more could you want :-)credit to @layoftheday2012 on twitter

    Posted by The Liverpool Way on Monday, June 29, 2020

    Excuse the self indulgence but how often do you get Jurgen Klopp and Guinness appearing in the same sentence – never mind on the same pint. But click on the video above and you can see Liverpool’s manager come to life on top of a pint of Guinness thanks to the innovative people at RipplesTM who have created what they call bev-top media – a clever way of using technology to have some fun in pubs and bars by creating images on a range of drinks.

    Ripples is looking to work with hospitality operators willing to give its new technology a go and is designed to work on any foam-topped drinks such as draft beer, cocktails, and lattes where you can create drink designs and customise messages for guests. Ideal for linking to in-outlet promotions.

    A pilot study with Guinness over a three-month period at five participating on-trade venues in Israel saw sales of Guinness go up 26% with a 31% increase in share of wallet.

    And Another Thing….

    Here’s a round up of what else is happening and has taken place in the drinks and hospitality sectors.

    And we’re back…but not all experiences have been good says KAM Media
    • 28% of UK adults visited a pub or restaurant over re-opening weekend, and a further 17% plan to visit in the next week, according to new research from KAM Media. But the down side is that 18% who did go to a bar or restaurant last weekend won’t be going  back for a while due to an indifferent experience, 36% said they won’t be going out as much as they were before lockdown and 55% don’t expect to visit the on-trade for a while.
    • . Katy Moses of KAM Media says “operators need to act fast to understand why customers may have negative feelings about their first experience so that they can turn that sentiment around, fast”.
    • Other research from KAM Media and Brew/LDN has found that 46% of people surveyed have bought beer direct from a brewer for the first-time during lockdown and 87%  plan to continue to do so post-lockdown. They are also looking to try different beers with 57% saying they are now more interested in searching out unique beers than they were pre-lockdown – 47% of respondents said they’ve been seeking out more premium options.
    • 79% of respondents have consumed beer while ‘hanging out with friends online’ in the last three months. More than 1-in-2 expect to continue doing this even when lockdown measures ease, offering an interesting new beer drinking occasion for the industry.
    • Business investment in hotels and restaurants has fallen by more than 6% over the last year to £1.26bn down from£1.34 for the same period in 2019, according to the latest ONS figures. The overall British economy has also shrunk by 10.4% in the three months to April 2020. Overall business investment across UK industry rose 0.8% compared with the first quarter of 2019.

    • Baijiu Masterclasses: Specialist premium baijiu importer and distributor, Cheng International, is launching a four-part online masterclass series. They include: July 13: An Introduction; July 20th: Fenjiu baijiu with tutored tasting;  July 27: Wuliangye baijiu tutored tasting (3 x 20ml samples for £25, and 5 x 20ml samples for £35 can be ordered in advance with £5 per order going to The Drinks Trust); August 3: Baijiu culture and how to serve it and use in cocktails. For more information go to: https://bomci.chengintl.co.uk/

    July 4

    On-trade lockdown is over (in England) – but restaurants and bars are working slowly to get things right

    “Ah you’re open!” Welcome back and good luck to all bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels opening today

    It’s a special day for the UK on-trade, and the large drinks supply chain that support it, as restaurant, bars, pubs and hotels can finally re-open and accept guests to either safely eat and drink inside or, in many cases, specially created outdoor spaces. Well, at least they can in England. Scotland will have to wait until July 15 and the situation is still not clear in Wales.

    Although it has been a long, painful and for many hugely damaging wait, the re-opening of the on-trade in the UK has also come a lot earlier than many feared at the outset of the lockdown when the government feared it could not be until the end of the year before the on-trade could re-open. It is, though, with some wariness that operators are opening their doors. If you have received any “re-opening” mailers this week they are as likely to have been about all the measures that have been taken to make them safe places to go to, rather than the actual food and drink offer that awaits you if you go.

    Many groups and independent outlets are choosing to wait and see – Heath Ball at The Red Lion & Sun told The Buyer last month that he was would like to see what other bigger operators do before switching from his successful delivery and take away service. He is not alone with other high profile operators choosing to slowly roll out the recovery plans. Jason Atherton in this on-trade debate with Flint Wines says he will start re-opening from August.

    Those with restaurants in big commuter areas, and office locations – like the City of London – are choosing to hold back until September with Hawksmoor only opening sites in high footfall areas like Borough in South London before re-opening venues such as Guildhall.

    (Here’s how Mitch Tonks and Rockfish, below, are planning on re-opening in Plymouth in this clear, articulate, re-assuring short video)

    These tentative steps are in keeping with CGA’s latest New Business Confidence Survey that says the picture is mixed between those that have “widespread anxiety” about going back to restaurants and pubs, whereas others have a “guarded confidence” about doing so.

    Its study, with Fourth, shows that:

    • 59% of managed businesses plan to re-open from July 4,  with 18% doing so over the course of the next week.
    • Of the bigger groups only a quarter will open all their estate, with the majority choosing to do so on a gradual, test and trial basis. CGA expects an average of 60% of an operator’s sites will be open in the first week.
    • Much will depend on how the consumers respond and what the first few days are like with 84% of operators asked worried about what level of demand will there be to take the costly step of re-opening and taking staff of furlough.
    • There is says CGA still “huge uncertainty about consumer attitudes and trading” and it is likely to be a slow return rather than turning the taps back on again.

    We are, though, all in a better place than we thought we might be when the lockdown first came into place. Then only 15% of on-trade leaders in CGA’s confidence study were optimistic about how their business might do over the next year. That has now doubled to 32%. Or if you want to look at it through a half empty glass – over 70% are still fearful of their futures.

    UK Hospitality’s Kate Nicholls has tirelessly campaigned throughout the crisis for both support for the sector and now the steps needed to help it recover

    If the on-trade return turns out to less of a success than expected then it won’t be through a lack of trying. The industry’s trade bodies – with UK Hospitality at the centre of most major developments – have been working closely with the government and the trade throughout.

    In fact one of the big factors of the lockdown is how well the sector’s key bodies – the UKH, the British Beer and Pub Association, BII, supported by leading figures such as Jonathan Downey of London Union  – have joined forces, worked together, to ensure there is a clear, articulate message coming from all corners of the trade.

    Their  joint guidance is now being used by thousands of businesses to help them interpret the government’s own return to work measures which, for many, have only made the situation even more confusing.

    UK Hospitality’s excellent Covid-19 support section on its website includes separate guidelines for England, Scotland and Wales as well as a number of sections on all aspects of the crisis from furlough, to rent and VAT payments to managing stress and support. Click here to download the main advice. 

    UK Hospitality, BBPA and BII  have also produced this guide on how to introduce the track and trace policy that the government has asked all operators to introduce. You can download it here. What’s key is that these are not just guidelines for the trade to follow, but what it stresses are “clear instructions to businesses on their obligations and reminds them why it is important that they make a success of the scheme”. They add: “It is in the interests of everyone in the country that we all understand our role in the scheme and its importance in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.’

    Go On The Road with Chuck Cramer’s new podcast on Californian wines in partnership with The Buyer

    Chuck Cramer – aka Mr California – has set up his own podcast to celebrate Californian wines and the people who help promote them in the UK

    Whilst he has frustratingly not been able to sell any of the premium Californian wine to the on-trade that he usually does – as director of European sales and marketing for Terlato Wines – Chuck Cramer has been busy setting up his very own podcast. On the Road with Chuck Cramer is all about celebrating his home state and the wines it produces and he loves. In fact, short of playing baseball for a living it’s hard to think of a better career for Cramer, who more than lives up to his tongue in cheek persona of Mr California.

    Once a week the podcast – with a new episode every Thursday – sees Cramer chatting to his friends and peers in the trade about their own careers and their love and professional interest in Californian wine. The Buyer is also delighted to be helping Cramer spread the word about his new show as media partners of the podcast.

    As he says: “We are going to have a blast talking to you about California, the Golden State, its gorgeous wineries, beautiful vineyards and the passionate people who roll up their sleeves so you can enjoy a bottle or two.”

    The first episode featured The Buyer’s Richard Siddle talking about his experiences of Californian wine as a writer and, in particular, The Buyer’s involvement with the Wine Institute of California helping to recruit and take a group of leading UK buyers to the region last autumn on the generic’s first dedicated buyers’ trip to introduce them to producers looking to come to the UK. The outcome of which is summed up in this report.  You can listen to the podcast here. 

    Greg Sherwood MW enjoying Californian wines with The Harrow’s Roger Jones as part of  The Buyer’s restaurant tour with Sonoma County Vintners

    The second episode features an interview with Greg Sherwood MW, wine buyer at Handford Wines in London, about how he moved from a career as a commodities trader in South Africa, studying for his MW and then moving to the UK and starting work at Handford back in 2000. Over the last 20 years the business, and Sherwood have become one of the most important importers of exciting, premium Californian wines. You can listen to Cramer and Sherwood in the podcast here. 

    July 2

    IWSR/ Vinexpo reveal how Covid-19 has hit global drinks industry and how fast it can recover

    Credit IWSR for turning this chart into a Nike comparison…

    We have heard a lot during the Covid-19 lockdown about how fast our collective habits are changing as we have had to get used to a new way of living, working and shopping.

    But, according to drinks research body, IWSR, many of these changes are not as dramatic as we might think, but are only a reflection of the trends and habits that were already taking place before the outbreak of Covid-19. It’s just that lockdown has “exacerbated” them and put them on fast forward.

    Mark Meek, IWSR’s chief executive, was talking today as part of the first Covid-19 joint webinar held with Vinexpo to update the trade on drinking trends and what impact the global pandemic is going to have on world drinks sales.

    Many of the big macro issue, he says, have not gone away because of Covid-19 – including climate change, rise in demand of no and low alcohol products and the prospect of Brexit. Some have potentially got more acute, with even more focus on what is going to happen to tariffs and how key wine markets are going to look to protect their borders in the coming weeks and months.

    The good news

    Wine sales all over the world have taken a beating during Covid-19

    First the good news: IWSR does not see Covid-19 having a devastating, long term impact on the overall drinks industry.  If markets were in decline before they will continue to be in the future – with all countries facing a big drop in volumes in 2020, due to the worldwide closing of the on-trade, and the big difference being how fast and how far they are able to recover over the next three to four years. With different trends for individual drinks categories across beers, wines and spirits.

    We can expect, it says, to see the drinks equivalent of a ‘Nike swoosh” over the next four years as the total market recovers from 12% volume loss in 2020 to slowly recover to 2019 levels by 2024.

    Meek said the drinks industry’s collective “remarkable resilience” is well placed to see itself through Covid-19 and beyond.

    The spirits industry, says the IWSR went into Covid-19 on the back of 1% global growth in 2019 and is likely to see a 10.7 volume fall in 2020. But it is well placed to recover to 2019 volumes by 2024.

    In most markets, though, the IWSR predicts trading and volume levels will start to get back to 2019 levels by 2024/ 202, with some exceptions. Noticeably the UK which the IWSR sees suffering a drop of versus    

    Again IWSR expects the beer sector to also bounce back to 2019 levels by 2024 after an initial decline in 2020. The beer category will be helped, in particular, by the ongoing demand for no- alcohol beers which were growing as much as 30% a year in some European markets.

    Wine losses

    The boom in online sales through independents – like here at Stone Vine & Sun – won’t make up for the losses from on-trade

    The story for wine is a bit more dramatic and varied, country by country. It went into Covid-19 with 1.1% fall in volume decline around the world and that will drop by as much as 13.6% in 2020 – with ecommerce sales not making up for the big losses from the on-trade.

    The recovery for wine is likely to be a lot longer than beers and spirits and is not guaranteed to even get back to 2024 levels for some time. CAGR levels for wine are forecast to be down 0.9% between 2019 and 2024.

    Meek said the reason why wine was less likely to bounce back was that all the underlying issues such as climate change, tariff wars and Brexit, are all going to be there even with a vaccine for Covid-19.

    Sparkling wine, though, is likely to buck the trend and although is forecast to decline by as much as 15% in 2020 on the back of years of growth, it is more likely to return to 2019 levels as demand for Prosecco will come back quickly and Champagne will once again show how resilient it is. Thanks mainly to strong domestic sales, particularly in the second half of the year.

    “In France Champagne is less about celebration,” says Meek.

    But the picture will vary considerably around the world over the next four to five years. Europe, for example, is on course for 0.4% CAGR decline between 2019 to 2024, with the US expected to drop by 0.9% CAGR. The Asia Pacific is on course for 10.8% volume declines in 2020, excluding baiju, but should return to 2019 levels by 2019.

    All of Europe’s key wine markets – France, the UK, Spain, Italy, are set for double digit declines in 2020.

    The UK did not go into Covid-19 in a strong position, says Meek, with duty levels up 72% in the last 10 years, but even with the boom in online and retail wine sales, the total UK still wine market is expected to be down 9.7% and sparkling by 11.8% in 2020. Although there will be a considerable bounce back in 2021, this will be short lived with the underlying UK trade issues resurfacing. CAGR will be down 2.1% from 2019 to 2024 for still and sparkling wine. 

    Online wine boom

    China is the country to watch when it comes to online with 30% of wine now sold through ecommerce, says Meek. The global market for online is now worth $21bn across the world’s top 10 core wine markets, which is twice the size of the global travel retail market, and is set to grow to nearly $50bn by 2024, says the IWSR. China already accounts for $8b of the $21bn.

    Wine outstrips sales of beers and spirits and will continue to grow its share in the coming years, says IWSR. Wine sales were up 18% online in 2019 versus 1% for the overall global market.

    Organic wines are also expected to grow – albeit from a low base – by 8.8% CAGR to 2024.

    Looking ahed Meek says the wine category should look closely at what is happening with RTDs, and the 19.6% increase in volumes and 18.8% rise value in 2019. Are there opportunities for wine to make RTD formats and push more into cans.

    Long term Covid-19 trends

    The IWSR also shared the trends it believes will have the long term impact on the drinks industry long after Covid-19. They include:
    * further long term increase in cans – particularly if outdoor becomes even more important in the on-trade and big events.

    • shifts in the on-trade with more demand for delivery and out of restaurant/ at home experiences.
    • a reduction in business and leisure travel.
    • the need to get much better at digital engagement will determine future winners in the sector.
    • big threats to wine tourism.
    • working more from home, and impact on every day lunch time/evening on-trade traffic.   

    All of those have clearly seen much growth during lockdown, along with the big swing towards big brands.

    Meek says the industry needs to start thinking less about being driven by production trends and look more at building strong, commercially and consumer relevant brands that are marketed well. Those businesses that can do that will be vey placed to succeed over the coming years.

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