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Wine trade identifies major opportunities for 2014

Published:  29 August, 2014

The relaunch of the 3 for £10 mechanic; a major crisis in the Spanish bulk wine industry and the growing prominence of fruit-flavoured wines were all chosen as major stories of the year to date by some of the wine trade's top names.

As part of our Back to School series, we asked a series of industry experts and managing directors from a slew of companies across the UK to identify the main trends for this year, talk about their company plans and pick out the biggest challenges for the trade.

Globe in red wine glassKey players from the wine trade identify global opportunitiesThe wine industry faces many challenges this year, but most of those included in Harpers' Back to School series were positive about the remainder of 2014.

The reports, from diverse figures including Felix Solis UK managing director Richard Cochrane; Patrick McGrath MW, managing director of Hatch Mansfield; and bulk wine broker Anya Robson of Murphy Wine Company, are designed to refresh our memories of what's happened so far in the year, and prepare us for the busy months ahead.

Wines of Argentina's Europe and Asia head Andrew Maidment told it foresees continued growth, especially in the run-up to the festive season. "Exports for the year to date are up almost 20% and the rate of growth hasn't looked to be slowing, so more wines leaving Argentina now will be hitting the shelves ready for the Christmas trade. We also major on 'winter friendly' wines, so I would hope this works in our favour."

Felíx Solís UK's managing director Richard Cochrane said the firm had seen volumes surge by 20% this year, despite a declining Spanish category.  

Meanwhile Anya Robson of bulk wine broker Murphy Wine Company identified Languedoc's short harvest as a thorny issue. She predicted that the region would see pricing rise once more."This makes meeting price points for buyers complicated especially as they put in price rises in 2013. The buyers don't want to commit to such high prices and the engine stalls." Given market sensitivities to price hikes she said any increases will "test the elasticity of demand and drive many volumetric buyers to look elsewhere. Another year for South Africa looks to be on the horizon".

Liberty Wines managing director David Gleave agreed that the upcoming harvest could pose problems. "The 2014 vintage through much of Europe is looking very difficult. Our winemakers, who are on the ground in Italy, France and Spain, have been pressed into action early in order make a ruthless selection of healthy fruit in the vineyard. As with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in 2014, this will result in some wine which is unsaleable and a small amount which is very good. Selection - both in the vineyard, the winery and from the producer - is always the key in a vintage like this."

Hatch Mansfield managing director Patrick McGrath MW, said the continuing squeeze from retailers, coupled with consumers' reluctance to spend more than £10 on a bottle of wine was putting "wine suppliers under significant margin pressure. There is continued demand for suppliers to invest and innovate. It's  very difficult when they are the ones under the most margin pressure."

If you'd like more detail on these back to school reports, check them out here: