Waitrose BWS boss warns of ‘unsustainably’ low wine prices

1st November, 2016 by Arabella Mileham

Waitrose BWS head has warned that the retail industry is “dumbing down” the message of the true cost of wine by concentrating on low priced wines, failing to help consumers understand why they need to pay a sustainable price.

Speaking to db at Waitrose’ recent tasting, head of buying in BWS Pierpaolo Petrassi MW argued that retailers have a duty to articulate what people are paying for, and warning that the trend for lower prices across retail was squeezing margins and ultimately threatening sustainability of wine producers.

“If retailers are not paying a price to cover costs of production, paying staff a sustainable wage, then provision for some investment – new bottling lines or tractors are expensive – then the equation is not sustainable. You have to allow people….

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6 Responses to “Waitrose BWS boss warns of ‘unsustainably’ low wine prices”

  1. neil bruce says:

    When PPP speaks it’s always worth listening to.
    Bravo. Fa senso.

  2. Ian Harris says:

    Couldn’t agree more – and always good to see the ‘e-word’ (education) used, and seen as a driver of margin.
    Ian at WSET

  3. Jake says:

    Good to see a step in the right direction and something a bit more inviting in the wine aisles.
    The issues could be a bit more underlying than straight price discounting. The trouble is the drive on private/own label wine brands in the last 10 years or so across many national retailers. These brands with no significant brand stories (don’t count another unique landscape or a gold medal as a story) /essentially a whole bunch of me too products. And the remaining non-private are the same old wine brands year after year. Innovation in the category is often a new single estate/label change from the same brand or new private label launch. Not exactly peaking the consumers interest. I also read often that the wine industry should be more like the craft beer industry… with their innovative craft beer packaging formats/limited edition unique flavours and retailers communicating “real” brand stories from craft beer producers, and looking to have the most obscure craft beer brands and proud of it! It would be great if wine buyers took the same approach to their category! get some real brand wine stories out there, look for wine innovation.. its there from producers all around the world. You could then look to create a more premium category.

  4. About time someone actually spoke up about this from the retail side.

  5. Alan, Independent Merchant says:

    Waitrose, and this guy, are part of the problem – and not part of the solution. Waitrose has today announced yet another round of ‘25% off all wines & champagnes until 8 November’. It is a bit rich of Petrassi to talk about sustaining margins and educating consumers to pay more for their wine, when he and Waitrose regularly do heavy discounting. This heavy discounting distorts the market and leads consumers to pay less for their wine, not more. Independents lose business and other supermarkets retaliate with further discounting. The UK wine trade is very good at eroding value and hastening its own demise. Supermarkets are a key part of the problem.

  6. Supermarkets, including Waitrose are part of the problem and not the solution like someone already said. First and foremost, not all wines should cost the same, there are countries were making wine is cheaper than others so if consumers were educated would know that £5 for a French or Italian wine will not give a great wine, but if they cant afford more, they can get better value for money choosing a different country and wine. Secondly, supermarkets are all chasing each other on “branded” wines, but make their money from their own labels made by the same big wineries, they use branded wines to get people through the door hoping that once in, because of the “trust”, consumers would not mind paying a couple of extra pounds to buy their own label wines.
    Supermarkets have been using brands to launch products and create demand forever and after achieving their goal, replace the brands with their own label, unfortunately brands cant live without supermarkets and viceversa so they use each other damaging the whole industry

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