Why the French wine industry is running out of wooden cases, boxes and glass bottles

Thursday September 23 2021 by Vitisphere

 Pressure on prices and supplies is not just affecting consumable items. Rising prices of stainless steel are also having an impact on purchases of new tanks. Pressure on prices and supplies is not just affecting consumable items. Rising prices of stainless steel are also having an impact on purchases of new tanks. - Photo credit : Adam (Arthur Pequin)

Members of the French wine industry have not even begun to think about the inevitable increase in the price of their wines due to the small 2021 crop, and already they have to contend with the headache of surging prices of dry materials. In recent months, supplies across-the-board seem to have become scarce, with price and delivery time increases for glass bottles, wooden crates, boxes, and even pallets.

Whatever the raw material, demand is skyrocketing and suppliers are overwhelmed with orders. We thought it would calm down, but it's becoming structural”, explains Christophe Rensonnet, global supplies director for the closure supplier Vinventions (Nomacorc, Syntek, Vitop etc.). “Everything stems from market disruption following Covid”, adds Philippe Serrault, managing director of Loire Viti Vini Distribution, which has 1,400 active customers and turns over €27 million. “We've gone from a period of working under capacity, which disrupted the industry, to a situation where demand is higher than before the crisis. The combination of the two has created inflation, compounded by availability issues”.

One area where shortages are undeniable is wooden cases. “Wood has become a scarce resource”, says Pierre Rebeyrole, managing director of the Mauco Cartex group which has 4,200 active customers and a turnover of €18 million. He is inviting his customers to switch from wood to cardboard, but also points to “significant pressure on paper and cardboard in terms of deadlines and sales prices. This is unprecedented. Raw materials have increased by 50%”.

Glass supply is also highly problematic: “We are suffering from the fact that some glass manufacturers slowed down production in 2020 and did not anticipate the strong recovery. Stocks remain very low”, says Elisabeth Daviaud, purchasing manager for Loire Viti Vini.

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