Reading this recent Decanter item – South Africa complaining that increased bulk shipping of wine is damaging its packaging industry – it struck me as fairly ludicrous to suggest that the response should be to embark on a trade war. I’m not sure where they got that headline from anyway – if you read the article, all the SA Government spokesperson says is why not look to meet the problem by, for example, importing Scotch whisky in bulk and bottling it locally.
As the WoSA spokesperson points out, the economics of bulk shipping are increasingly attractive, and it’s going to increase. Not just in the UK market, but globally, and not just in relation to wine. I would have thought that if you have increasing trade in bulk exports, you will, reciprocally, seek increased trade in bulk imports. It should therefore broadly even itself out over time, shouldn’t it?
So will we see national laws that seek to prevent export in bulk or, to put it another way, insist upon bottling/packaging in the region of production, increasingly come under challenge? Within the EU they can only be justified on limited grounds, but they do exist outside the EU, certainly in the case of wine. You’ll find a more detailed review of this on our website.