French winemakers call for support despite a good harvest

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Harvests are starting to come to an end in Occitanie in the south of France, this year being described as “very exceptional”, in the midst of a respectable harvest of 3.5 to 4 million hectoliters.Frédéric Rouanet, president of the Aude winemakers’ union, told the premises news source France 3: “The quality of the new vintage is extremely exceptional. It was very hot during the ripening, which allowed the grapes to develop their flavors. The quality is very constant. ”

Ludovic Roux, regional representative of the Coopératives de France union, agrees. He said that while “it has been difficult for some”, due to weather issues such as “late frost, hail, heavy rainfall in the spring which caused the mold attack”, he concluded that ” all in all, we are going to have a very good year ”.

Covid-19 issues

Despite the good harvest, groups fear that the Covid-19 pandemic – including the ripple effects of containment, as well as continued restrictions and fears over impending hotel closures – could have a negative effect on l ‘industry.

Mr Rouanet said: “During and since childbirth, we sell half the usual volume to cafes and restaurants. Exports have also halved compared to September 2019. ”

During the spring lockdown, the wine industry received state support as all bars and restaurants closed and sales plummeted.

Mr Rouanet said: “This is why we had to act very quickly during the detention. We saw stocks that weren’t moving, and we knew we had to fix the market before we started the new crop. ”

Crisis measures have been put in place, allowing winegrowers to sell their grape juice without losing too much money and to continue producing alcohol, and to make room for the new harvest.

Future problems

But the industry is now asking for more recognition and support for the issues it continues to face.

The problems come after the United States imposed sanctions on French wine in retaliation for EU subsidies given to aviation giant Airbus, including a 25% tax on French (and German and Spanish) wine .

Containment due to Covid-19 – first in China, then in Europe and around the world – has also significantly affected sales worldwide, from late 2019 until 2020. Now, as President Macron points out guard against stricter measures against Covid, and bars in Paris, the Bouches-du-Rhône, and beyond, the crisis seems far from over.

Read more: France to impose tougher measures amid record Covid cases

Mr. Rouanet said: “We need to restart the economy so that people can consume our products! In Aude, professional catering and wine-growing associations work with the prefecture. We absolutely want to avoid further restrictions on bars and restaurants, but if the situation worsens, the prefect may not have a choice.

There are also fears that the annual wine and wine fairs, festivals and exhibitions may be canceled, which Rouanet said accounts for 28% of annual activity, and is “crucial for the sector”.

He said: “In October and November each year I usually have six wine fairs. Individuals generally shop for the year. If the shows are canceled, this will represent a loss of € 100,000. If I don’t have that money, the next three or four months could be catastrophic.

Mr Roux added that while “only about 10% of the region’s co-ops are in dire financial need” and “are still holding on,” he said the sector would still need more support in the months to come.

Further uncertainties with Covid-19, as well as the uncertain outcome of the upcoming US elections, as well as the consequences of a possible no-deal Brexit, are also on the horizon.

Mr Roux said: “We need help to stay afloat in the months to come. We need mechanisms to allow us to lower our costs, and we need the banks to be understanding, perhaps to amortize certain taxes … because the winegrowers cannot afford not to sell wine for two years . The chests will not hold. “

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