Planning on raising a glass on Christmas Day? Perhaps a citrussy French Chablis to wash down the Turkey or even a fruity Spanish Rioja? Thanks to Brexit, it’s going to cost more this year.
Industry experts are warning that wines are ‘up £3 a bottle’ since the UK left the European Union. Wine importers in the UK have become increasingly frustrated by the extra red tape leaving the bloc has created, adding hundreds of pounds to every shipment and passing the cost onto the consumer.
New research conducted by the European Movement UK (EM UK) has highlighted the extent to which businesses are struggling. It has found that the main issues are finding staff and new restrictions on trading with European neighbours.
For Nick Haring, CEO of EM UK, the full cost of Brexit on wine is now becoming clear, with multiple new checks meaning many importers are giving up on bringing wines to the UK entirely.
“Paying more for the same bottle of wine is yet another way in which Brexit is hitting the pockets of consumers. Unless we see action from the government on easing the red tape and trade barriers for our UK businesses, prices will only continue to rise,” he said.
Daniel Lambert, who runs a Wales-based business importing millions of bottles of wine a year knows this all too well. “Wine is the most consumed alcohol in the UK, 12 million bottles every day, and 70% of that comes from the EU, places like France and Spain. In the old system with a single market, there was no ‘importing’ of wine – only moving wine,” he said.
The extra red tape, he explained, has added roughly £3.50 to every bottle of wine purchased. “If you used to buy a bottle for £8.99 – that’s now £11.99 or £12.99. Pre-Brexit, one pallet of wine that I was shipping from France, containing between 600-720 bottles, was £180. Between 25p and 30p a bottle. Now it’s about £400 – between 55p and 65p a bottle. It’s more than doubled,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gavin Quinney, a UK-born wine producer who now makes his own wine in France claimed that while the UK used to be one of the best places in the world to drink wine, now it is fast becoming one of the worst. “Producers now need multiple registrations to ship to the UK. Many simply haven’t bothered, because they have dozens of other markets they can sell to more easily. That has pushed prices sky-high.”
He added: “If you think we can make it up with wines from Australia or South Africa – forget it. Imagine importing 12 million bottles a day from Australia. They’re miles away, and it’s just pure nonsense. There’s no way you can just replace EU wine with wines from around the world, it could never happen.”