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Importers stockpile wine to avoid dry Brexit Christmas in UK

Importers stockpile wine to avoid dry Brexit Christmas in UK

Champagne is being stockpiled in the UK following fears supplies may dry up post-Brexit and pre-Christmas. 

Britain is champagne's largest export market, ahead of the United States, with a share of 17%. Last year it bought more than 26 million bottles.

Most producers have boosted their shipments to the UK to avoid logistical hurdles or taxes on EU imports following a potential exit from the European Union on October 31.

"Growers and houses have overstocked in Great Britain to fill a possible border closure if it were to occur," said Thibaut Le Mailloux, head of communication for trade body Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC).

"Champagne is champagne, it's like the Eiffel Tower," said Taittinger president Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger. "The English have loved champagne for 300 years and, Brexit or no Brexit, they will continue to like it, this is something we have no question about."

Wine critic Antoine Gerbelle told Yahoo Business there was enough champagne stockpiled to meet British demand for at least a year.

"There won't be a champagne crisis at Christmas," he said.

Beer, still wine and spirits are also being stockpiled. 

According to a survey from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (Cips), more than a fifth of companies have taken steps to import stocks earlier than usual to avoid any border disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

John Glen, an economist at Cips, said alcohol wholesalers in particular had started stockpiling imports from the EU in recent weeks, rather than waiting until November as usual.

“It’s particularly wine from the EU,” he said. “Companies have bought well ahead of Christmas this year, due to potential disruption at the ports and to try and avoid depreciation in the value of sterling against the euro.”

According to secret documents that the government was forced to make public recently, up to 85% of lorries crossing the Channel might not be ready for a new French customs regime.

“The lack of trader readiness combined with limited space in French ports to hold ‘unready’ HGVs could reduce the flow rate to 40%-60% of current levels within one day as unready HGVs will fill the ports and block flow,” the document warned.

This situation could last for up to three months, and disruption might last “significantly longer”, it added, with lorries facing waits of between 1.5 days and 2.5 days to cross the border.

Glen said: “Mass border disruption during this time could have a catastrophic impact. Businesses need to be provided with as much detail and support as possible to ensure they can survive the festive period.”