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 Eight 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.
The first seven 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 and then into July 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.
Penfolds’ Peter Gago on working through lockdown but still talking and tasting wines with customers around the world
In any normal year Peter Gago, chief winemaker for Penfolds at Treasury Wine Estates, would spend week after week travelling all over the world carrying out tastings, masterclasses and spreading the word about Penfolds and all the new, and old bins he has been responsible for making.
So how has lockdown been for this wine globetrotter? Find out for yourself in this extended interview that The Buyer’s Richard Siddle did for VINEX, the online trading platform for bulk and bottled wine.
In it he talks about:
- the situation in Australia through lockdown and how it has coped with Covid-19 (4 minutes).
- how different states have been affected and what producers have been able to do to keep distributing and making wine.
- how he has had to blend wines virtually with winemaking teams in different sites (7 minutes) and how they have become used to working separately but collaboratively.
- the quality of the overall Australian 2020 vintage and the “rollercoaster” producers have had to deal with (9 minutes 40 seconds).
- How the country is still in the wake of the devastating bush fires that hit at the end of 2019 and they have to be seen as their own disaster as much as the impact that Covid-19 has had (11 minutes).
- launching new vintages of Penfolds remotely and through virtual tastings and samplings rather than in person (14 minute 30 seconds).
- how he looks at Penfolds in separate 10 year timelines to assess trends and changes rather than over analyse each one in isolation. It’s the nuances between each one that collectively adds up to give Penfolds its image and reputation (16 minutes and 30 seconds).
- as a winemaker how he tackles and works with climate change and the gradual increase of heat in the vineyards (18 minutes and 45 seconds) and the importance of blending and flexibility of sourcing is becoming even more important – like a chef picking the right ingredients.
- how it has worked in and developed its Chinese business and its success there has been the result of decades of work and understanding the market (23 minutes and 15 seconds).
- changes in drinking trends and styles in China (27 minutes) and how it is no longer just “red wine, red wine or red wine” and the demographic of wine buying and drinking in China is changing all the time.
- how Penfolds fits into the luxury and “aspirational” sectors and how it needs to handle its image carefully as its brand stretches from the high end to mainstream wines that as winemakers “they still love just as much” (29 minutes).
- how he is going to cope not travelling and how it might be well into 2021 before he is able to (33 minutes) travel overseas outside Australasia.
- working with Champagne Thiénot on the joint Penfolds collaboration and how he will be doing dosage trials and tastings from Adelaide with the team in Chamapagne (36 minutes 20 seconds) and what has been like working in Champagne.
- the community of winemaking and how he is always learning and sharing ideas with winemakers around the world, highlighted by the work with Champagne Thiénot (40 minutes 30 seconds) and other wine connections.
- introducing the new G4 blended wine which is a combination of different vintages – “a blend of a blend” – of which there has only been 2,500 bottles produced (45 minutes).
- his final thoughts on how he sees the rest of the year panning out and how he is still optimistic for Penfolds’ global performance and the future of the overall wine industry (50 minutes 40 seconds).
South African hospitality, tourism and wine industry unite to protest against the sale of alcohol
On Friday 24 July, the second of two organised peaceful protests, which aimed to take a stand against the current regulations that are creating hardships and damage to the hospitality industry, was met with stun grenades and water cannons outside Parliament.
Posted by Eat Out on Friday, July 24, 2020
This week South Africans came together all across the country to protest against the local domestic ban on all alcohol led by those from the hospitality, tourism and wine and beer sectors.
People took to the streets on July 22 to peacefully protest and make the case for the ban to be lifted in order to save the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people either working in or supported by the alcohol sector under the slogan of #Jobssaveslives. Watch the short video above to see what action was taken.
It is the latest step by different sectors in South Africa to raise awareness of the crisis the alcohol, wine and tourism, retail and hospitality sectors face because of the lockdown on all alcohol sales.
Key export markets for South African wine are being urged to do what they can to support the industry and buy and promote South African wine to their customers under the #drinkSouthAfrica hashtag.
Chef and The Buyer’s editor-at-large Roger Jones did his bit to support South Africa today offering a free wine tasting to customers who came to pick up their weekly order of Michelin-style meals that Jones has been providing from his kitchen of what was formerly The Harrow at Little Bedwyn.
Shifts being offered in the hospitality sector are close to 70% down on pre-lockdown
The UK’s slow return to wanting to go out to restaurants, bars and pubs is further revealed in new figures from Wagestream that claims shifts across the hospitality sectors are still down 68.9% on pre-lockdown levels. The figures are a reflection of both the number of outlets that have chosen, or able to re-open, and the numbers of people willing to go to them – with only a 3% week by week increase in shifts across hospitality.
Wagestream clams the on-trade “faces existential crisis unless Brits get out there and spend” and there has not been the “post-lockdown renaissance” that many in the trade were hoping for. as it limps back to life, analysis by income streaming provider Wagestream reveals today.
The new research also shows the differences there are around the country with shift levels at 58.3% pre-lockdown levels versus 68.9% overall. In Scotland, where the on-trade was able to re-open on July 15, the number of shifts being worked is down 73% since before lockdown.
It is based on shift data for tens of thousands of workers for the weekend of July 18-19 compared to March 21-22. It also 2020, the weekend just before the UK lockdown began.
New prepayment service to help protect restaurants from no shows
A new ‘dosh before nosh’ prepayment system has been launched to try and protect restaurants from the large number of no shows they have seen since re-opening their doors.
Customers can go online, decide what they want to order before going to the restaurant and then pre-paying online.
Tom Messett, founder of Stampapp.me, said: “People often stump up hundreds of pounds in advance for theatre or gig tickets, so why shouldn’t restaurateurs expect the same commitment from their customers? As we get back to something closer to normality, we want to give restaurants and their customers a way of supporting each other. To give certainty to their customers and remove further financial risk for restaurants, Bankuet enables payment and ordering for meals at the time of booking.”
Restaurants are charged £24.99 a month for running the scheme with 10% of Bankuet’s profits going to Hospitality Action.
The new service follows some high profile publicity from leading chefs, restaurateurs and restaurant critics highlighting just how bad the problem of ‘no shows’ has become. There have been calls for restaurants to introduce booking fees and deposits to help them at a time when they are struggling in any case to operate under social distancing measures.
Brewdog to introduce four dedicated drive thru outlets
We have seen the return of the drive in movie as we look to find new ways of entertaining ourselves in a new safe distancing world. Brewer, turned bar owner, Brewdog, is now looking to introduce its own drive thru beer shops where you can simply pick up your favourite brews without having to even leave your car. There will be an initial dedicated four drive thru sites, but customers will also be able to pick up beer from its other outlets by using its Hop Drop app.