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Producer views Covid-19 wine market ‘with a smile and a tear’

Having “sold out” in European retailers, but lost all its restaurant wine business due to Covid-19 lockdowns, leading Slovenian producer Puklavec views the current drinks market “with a smile and a tear”.

A new range of wines from Puklavec Family Wines destined to launch in the on-trade

In an exchange with the drinks business last week, Tatjana Puklavec from Puklavec Family Wines said that she had “sold out” in The Netherlands’ biggest supermarket chain, Albert Heijn, and was experiencing surges in demand in the UK and Poland, while commenting that overall sales for the Slovenian producer were 50% higher than had originally been budgeted for in export markets.

However, commenting on the “big channel switch” from restaurants to retail sales of wine since the lockdowns in Europe shuttered the on-premise, she said, “We have lost all of our on-trade business, therefore we need the raise in the off-trade.”

Continuing she said, “In our home country Slovenia and also in Croatia we depend 20% on the on-trade: we lost 75% in March, and in April we have sold zero bottles, so we are really happy about better sales in the off-trade.” 

Tatjana Puklavec

As a result, she remarked, “We are looking at the market with a smile and a tear and I hope we can start developing new business again in the second half of the year.”

While the shift in demand from on-trade to off-trade wine sales may have kept the volume of business steady for a producer like Puklavec, the story may be different in terms of turnover, with the restaurant business tending to sell finer wines.

Tatjana explained, “The off-trade switch has been happening on our medium-priced wines (for example Puklavec & Friends at Waitrose in the UK), but we do not sell our higher priced wines in the off-trade, therefore we have lost sales in this premium segment.”

She added, “This is really a pity, because we were just launching a new portfolio with Bibendum for the on-trade and the feedback was very positive after the first tastings (see above for a picture of the new range).

“So, we hope that we will be able to continue the introduction as soon as this channel opens again.”

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