- While a highly competitive retail environment allows retailers to demand stable prices from suppliers, buyers are looking for ways to adapt.
- Inflation and shipping delays have been the main causes for buyer hesitancy, but shipping speeds are now improving and rates decreasing.
- Although low harvests are expected in the Northern Hemisphere, carryover supply is still sufficient, meaning it might be a good time to buy.
- The strong US dollar provides opportunities for buyers in weaker markets like Chile, Argentina and South Africa.
- Consider competitively priced quality Spanish wine before the domestic market takes it.
Bulk wine and grape markets around the world are currently on the quiet side, although Chile and South Africa are experiencing steady international demand for their 2022 wines and doing their best to navigate the supply chain issues that continue to dog markets around the globe. While the current hiatus for bulk wine and grape sales can be partly attributable to the annual lull seen during the Northern Hemisphere summer holidays, we suspect consumers are pulling back due to inflation levels, which is also cause for hesitancy amongst buyers.
Price Pressure and Churn
In a highly competitive retail environment, with annual inflation moving towards 10% in key markets such as the US (June: 9.1%), UK (May: 9%) and the Eurozone (June: 8.6%), retailers are demanding their suppliers hold prices stable. We therefore see churn on the market as suppliers assess how best to meet this requirement while also retaining margin. Available options are: switching to sourcing from another appellation if possible, or buying in smaller increments, or even releasing wines back onto the spot market. This in turn creates opportunities for other buyers seeking the same wines.
Long Way to the Shelf
Another factor in buyer hesitancy is the prolonged lead times of getting wines onto retail shelves: 12 months of shipping delays and container shortages means some wines sourced a long time ago are only now reaching consumers. Consequently, immediate needs are being reduced, postponed, or axed altogether.
On the upside, shipping speeds are now discernibly improving, and some shipping rates have even been reduced: CMA CGM, for example, announced that – effective 1st August for 12 months – it will be lowering shipping rates by EUR500 per 40-foot container for consumer products imported by major retail chains to mainland France.
Low Harvest in the Northern Hemisphere
The drag factors outlined above also mean that, even if there are lower yields in the Northern Hemisphere this year (due to fraught conditions in France, Italy and Spain) there would still be remaining stock available to buy from 2021 or earlier. This is especially true of varietal and generic reds, but also of some varietal and generic whites, rosés and organic wines.
Good Time to Buy
Now may in fact be a good time for buyers to harness opportunities. The strong US dollar – deemed a safe haven by investors concerned by the global economic outlook – combined with weakening local markets means that the Argentinian peso is now at ARS135/dollar, the Chilean peso is (incredibly) at CLP1,000/dollar, and the South African Rand at ZAR17.10/dollar. Spain, meanwhile, possesses world-competitive and negotiable pricing on a range of wines, the better qualities of which will be taken by the still-robust domestic market before too long.
If you’re seeking opportunities as a buyer or seller, get in touch with Ciatti, who can draw on decades of experience to help you navigate the current and future bulk wine and grape markets.