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Generics respond to the pandemic: Wines of Chile

Published:  21 April, 2020

In the third of a series focusing on responses of the generic bodies to the current crisis, we talk to Anita Jackson, UK director, Wines of Chile

What does work look like during lockdown?

The UK Wines of Chile office has run remotely for over five years now, so it’s business as usual for us. By monitoring the press and wine trade press, I have been able to regularly update my colleagues in Chile on the situation here in the UK, Wines of Chile Santiago now sends out a weekly newsletter to the wineries updating them on the Coronavirus situation in their main markets.

We are working on events and activities preparing what we can so that we can activate these initiatives as soon as restrictions are lifted. The new planting stats are just in which are very comprehensive, so I have also been able to use this time to update the information that we have to share with the press and educators.

In terms of planned events, initiatives and campaigns, what have you shifted and to when?

The date for our annual trade tasting is Tuesday 22 September, to be held in the Lindley Hall, Victoria, London, and we are working on details for this event.

Other activities that we were going to hold in May and June have been postponed until later in the year and will be announced as soon as we can. I suspect the Autumn and Winter is going to be very busy for trade activities.

What other initiatives or new strategies might we see as we emerge post lockdown?

Virtual tastings have been really popular during lockdown. I can see us incorporating more on-line events into our plans going forward, especially adapting this approach for our educational program. Part of our strategy has been to focus on wines that retail £10 and above. Given that we are facing unprecedented economic uncertainty this will probably have to be reviewed.

Do you foresee any changes with regard to how the producers you represent might approach this market post the pandemic?

The UK is Chile’s third largest market (all formats) and fourth for bottled wine exports (which most generics focus on). According to the latest Chilean export stats the UK is up 7.3% (MAT March 2019 to February 2020). We anticipate growth to continue, but where we were optimistic that there would be significant increases, realistically we hope that the growth for this year remains around the current figure. I anticipate that the Chilean producers will still maintain a focus on this market, especially as 82% of Chilean wine sales are in the retail sector.

Any other comments?

The President of Wines of Chile, Aurelio Montes recently sent a video message out to the wineries reassuring them that we will get through this together and that the Wines of Chile offices are all currently open and working and that we are there to assist them when and where ever possible.