Argentina’s bottle crisis 

A shortage of bottles following a fire is threatening the South American giant’s booming wine industry.

Credit: Milan -
Credit: Milan -

Argentina enjoyed the fastest export growth in the world in 2020 and was one of only four countries to see growth, with sales of 395m litres – 26.7 percent more than in 2019. Of these, just over half - 202m litres – were in bottle. 

It is this sector that is facing a crisis following a major fire on September 19th at the Verallia glass company, one of the country’s only two manufacturers. Production of up to 21m bottles may have been lost.

The fire which particularly impacted the lightweight bottle production line added to existing problems the manufacturers were already having in supplying the domestic local market. Many producers have full tanks and making up the deficit from neighbouring members of the Mercosur group of countries is not an easy prospect. Bottles from outside this free-trade-zone are subject to fees and taxes that amount to 13 percent of their total import value. Mendoza's Minister of Finance, Enrique Vaquié, has asked the national government to exempt the wine industry from these charges while the local supply situation is solved.

Meanwhile, as producers and buyers prepare for the World Bulk Wine Exhibition in Amsterdam (at which Meininger’s Wine Business International contributing editor is a conference speaker), many eyes will be turned to Argentina to see whether wine previously destined to be sold domestically in bottle might become available for sale elsewhere in Flexitank. dlr

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