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Wholesaler shows sting in its tail

WHOLESALER Makro is aiming to sting the competition with the launch of a new vodka containing an edible scorpion. Skorppio Vodka originated in Spain and is now produced and bottled in the UK.

Each bottle of the five-times distilled vodka contains an edible scorpion. The creatures are said to be reared in Mexico especially for human consumption, and have their venom removed to ensure they are safe to eat.

Hannes Flotto, MD of Makro UK, said the launch of Skorppio Vodka is part of the company’s ongoing strategy to “provide the very best products for its customers”. “Vodka containing a scorpion is often used by bartenders to make jugs of cocktails, with the drinker who gets the scorpion in their glass considered to be the lucky recipient,” he said. “We are excited to be able to exclusively introduce this drink to the UK market.”

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Ensure the wine price is right

Scotland’s bars, restaurants and hotels in the coming months. Suppliers say January’s VAT rise and soaring fuel costs, coupled with weak exchange rates in some producer nations and the potential for further duty rises in next month’s Budget, will prompt both consumers and operators to put value high on the agenda when choosing wine. Rising costs were a major

Consumer choice will continue to be informed by cost – suppliers P

RICE looks set to continue to influence the wine landscape in

year and has pledged that the prices published will remain unchanged, even if duty increases next month. Managing director Billy Bell told SLTN he hoped it would bring some certainty for the trade.

“Operators can change their own lists now to take account of the VAT increase and they can be confident it will see them through the bulk of the summer,” he said.

consideration when Wine Importers put together its new list. The Livingston- based group, which recently acquired Irvine Robertson Wines, brought forward the publication of its list this

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“Everyone is looking at margin at the moment; this gives operators a bit of certainty that the price won’t change again after the Budget. “Increases in fuel prices are affecting delivery costs and it could get worse; we’ll need to take distribution costs into account but that will be it.” As well as production and distribution costs, trends in the wine market are likely to be at the mercy of exchange rates. Bell reckons sales of wine from Australia, where the dollar is relatively strong, could suffer, predicting that South American and South African producers could plug the gap. Bulgarian wine is also expected to perform well this year; Bell said the Deer Point range it imports from the country offers a “new world style and an old world quality at a superb price”. “In recessionary times, drinkers are less promiscuous about what they buy,” he added.

“Our portfolio helps. Trusted names, like Torres – they are wines that will sell well when times are tough. “Offering more wines by the glass and, therefore, having a good preservation system will also be important this year when money is tight for consumers.”

Giles Cooke, buying and marketing

director at Alliance Wine, also advised operators to offer more wines by the glass, saying it not only helps differentiate an outlet from its competitors, it can also bring financial benefits. “Times are tough and people are looking for value,” he told SLTN. “Wines by the glass are more popular in times of recession. It encourages consumers to try different wines and, at a basic level, operators can make more money selling by the glass than by the bottle.”

Cooke echoed Bell’s predictions that a weak exchange rate could mean a “tricky time” for sales of Australian wine in the on-trade, and that wines from Chile, Argentina and Spain

Wholesalers are urging operators to offer choice.

stand to benefit as a result. Claiming that sales of Pinot Grigio could have peaked, Cooke also predicted a move towards “crisp, dry, aromatic” wines. Douglas Williamson, Bibendum’s sales manager for Scotland, also anticipated a shift away from Pinot Grigio. “Our research suggests that other grapes, such as Sauvignon Blanc, are more popular when it comes to taste,” he said. “Offer a variety of well-chosen and well-priced wines other than Pinot Grigio and you have a chance to excite that customer and make some money. Increase choice – especially in your offering of wine by the glass and mid- range bottles.”

Ian Cumming, commercial director at Forth Wines, said although Pinot Grigio has almost become a ‘brand’ in itself, varietals like Viognier, Albarino and South African Chenin are gaining share. “More than ever this year with the

current economic climate plus VAT increases, value for money is the request heard more than ever,” he said. Iain McPherson, wine development specialist at Matthew Clark, said offering consumers a choice is vital. “Review your list – vintages change and, therefore, so does the wine,” he said. “The wine might have been great value for money last year, but is it this year?

“If you believe that selling more wine makes your outlet more profitable, then you need to believe that you have something or someone in your establishment capable of affecting the buying decisions of your customer.”

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