Scrapping EU law could create ‘£180m boost’ for UK wine industry
Plans by the UK Government to change EU laws on the production and marketing of wine could provide a £180 million boost to the UK wine industry, it has been claimed.
The money, according to the government, would come from allowing wine producers to pick from a wider range of vines, including disease-resistant varieties, and also restrictions on blending, allowing imported wine to be blended in the UK market.
Additionally, bottlers would also be able to turn imported wine into sparkling wine. The reforms would also see a removal of packaging requirements, such as foil caps and mushroom stoppers for sparkling wine, it said. Under the plans, UK wine makers would also not have to use the EU-mandated applications process to show a variety and vintage of wine.
Potential reforms include:
- Importer labelling – Remove a requirement that imported wines must show an importer rather than a Food Business Operator on the label.
- Hybrid grape varieties – Wine with Protected Designation of Origin permitted to use a wider choice of vine varieties that are more disease resistant.
- Piquette – Allow producers to make and market piquette from their wine production by-products.
- Blending wine – Allow imported wine to be blended in the UK market.
- Foil caps and mushroom stoppers – Remove the mandatory requirement that certain sparkling wines must have these to be marketed in the UK.
- Wine Certification Scheme – Allow any wine to show a variety and vintage without having to apply for the right to do so.
- Allow imported wine sector to be carbonated, sweetened, de-alcoholised in market.
- Permit the production and marketing of low and no alcohol wines.
The changes will now go out for official consultation with the industry shortly, the government said, and will be seeking views on the “nature, scope and timings of all the proposed changes” from a variety of stakeholders.
The proposed reforms to the retained EU laws have been made following engagement with the UK wine sector, and have been welcomed by the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WTSA).
Previously, the WTSA has said its aim was to “leave behind some clunky and outdated EU rules“, while “maintaining consumer confidence in the safety and quality of wine and spirits”. It also has commented that while most EU rules need to be maintained to protect consumers and confidence in brands, there were some that were “unnecessarily burdensome” and that could be dropped.
Speaking about the news on the fresh reforms, WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “We welcome the range of measures proposed today, many of which we have proposed publicly. By introducing greater flexibility, wine producers and importers won’t be forced to do anything differently but will be able to innovate.
“Allowing businesses bringing bulk wine into GB to be able to blend, will benefit importers, bottlers – and ultimately consumers while labelling changes will allow a common back label to be used in both EU and UK markets, maintaining the UK as an attractive market for all producers – large and small.”
Government ministers said the move would “put a rocket under our wine makers’ businesses” and would help to grow the food and drink sector in the UK, as well as provide the opportunity for innovation.
Food and Drink Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “The UK has over 800 thriving vineyards at home and hundreds of millions of pounds worth of wine trade going through UK ports every year. But for too long our producers have been held back by cumbersome inherited EU regulations. We will give them the freedom they need to thrive.
“These reforms will put a rocket under our wine makers’ businesses – growing the economy, creating jobs and supporting a vital part of our food and drink sector.”
Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “Needless red tape stifles innovation and growth. Now we have taken back control of our laws, we can ensure they work in the best interests of our businesses.
“Reforming and scrapping burdensome regulation will help grow the economy and provide businesses with much-needed freedoms to innovate, create and thrive.”