Inflation and higher costs have led to questions in the UK and US in recent weeks about how much the trade can absorb before wine prices increase.
Despite a recent freeze on duty tax, the UK Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has said it is concerned wine prices may rise in 2022 due to myriad factors, including higher costs, inflation and supply chain issues.
The trade body sent a letter to government signed by 49 UK wine and spirits businesses last month, warning that ‘rising costs and supply chain chaos have held up wine and spirit deliveries’ in the run-up to Christmas. Its CEO, Miles Beale, called on ministers to help ease the pressure on business over the festive season and beyond.
Daniel Lambert, of importer Daniel Lambert Wines, said costs were up in several areas, including on glass across Europe and on shipping globally.
Smaller 2021 harvests in some major regions could intensify upward price pressure on certain varietal wines.
Lambert predicted a ‘global shortage’ of Sauvignon Blanc in 2022, with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir supplies also looking tight. He said there’s ‘no doubt in my mind that we are going to see price increases’ on wines made from these varieties.
Yet importers and retailers have also been searching for alternative supply sources. Lambert said he’s looked more closely at German Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), which has received growing plaudits. He added that white Bordeaux has seen more trade interest.
Even if prices do rise on some bottles, Lambert said consumers’ thirst for wine appears strong. ‘Never has the independent sector been so buoyant,’ he said. ‘That’s very positive for the wine trade.’
A Majestic Wine spokesperson said retail price rises were not a certainty. ‘Our position is that we will continue to find our customers true value, either through our award-winning buying team or by offering alternative styles and grapes in our stores.’
In the US, Clyde Beffa Jr, co-owner of California-based K&L Wine Merchants, reported higher shipping costs on wines from Europe, Australia and New Zealand, plus delays at ports. The cost of moving wine from the US East to West Coast was also up around 20%, he said.
‘Another big problem in Europe is that finding wooden boxes for the wine cases (mainly Bordeaux) takes an extra month or two. Plus, they are more expensive.’
Beffa added, ‘We have had to raise prices a bit so far and have absorbed some of the cost increases.’