WSTA calls on Government support

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association has called for further Government help for the UK wine sector.

During the WSTA’s State of the Nation briefing at London Wine Fair 2015, CEO Miles Beale made clear the WSTA’s commitment to engage with the UK Government on the difficult issues of tough trading conditions, the threat of restrictions on local licensing and sponsorship and the "ever noisy voice" of the anti-alcohol lobby.

While the WSTA sees the new Conservatives government’s "business-friendly" manifesto as a “cause for optimism”, Beale said that the industry can only thrive if allowed to trade in the most favourable economic conditions.

He also highlighted the need for the Government to remove or avoid unnecessary red tape, to continue successful partnerships working with industry and to find solutions to common problems, introducing legislation only if absolutely necessary.

The WSTA said the industry require “further support” from the UK Chancellor in the Budget in July.

Beale outlined the need for continued engagement with the Government to press the case for fairness and to rebalance the unfair rates of excise duty, especially wine - which was the only alcoholic product not to have received a 2% cut in the March Budget.

He also argued that, while the recent freeze on wine duty was the best result for the industry in nearly 20 years, more needs to be done to support a great British success story and to support the emerging English wine industry.

According to the WSTA, UK consumers paid a “staggering £3.7 billion” in excise duty in 2013/2014, representing more than two thirds of wine excise duty collected across all 28 EU members states.

Speaking on the subject of providing consumers with calorie content information, Beale identified the ever-growing call for more information as an opportunity for the industry to demonstrate that it is ahead of the game.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “The UK wine market is an incredibly exciting sector. With some 30 million consumers, it is the sixth largest, the most competitive and almost certainly the most diverse wine market in the world.

“A new Conservative Government is promising for business growth, including for wine businesses in the UK, which have seen volumes falling for a number of years, but where bright spots include an 8% increase in value in the last five years. The freeze in wine duty in March should help, but sustained and improving support is required.

"And we will only succeed in continuing to make the case for our industry if we present a strong and unified industry voice. There are also a number of challenges to negotiate in order to ensure wine can reach its full potential. As we look forward to the next five years, I encourage all parts if the trade - how ever big or small - to join us and allow us to represent you - and so make the case for a stronger, more successful industry."