indian agricultural commodities, alcohol product prices june 23 - Bottoms up, as wine prices hit rock-bottom: To lure tipplers in search of cheaper alternatives to expensive hard liquor, wineries are planning to bring down prices to Rs 100-150 per bottle. Good news for Mumbaikars who have been searching for that elusive substitute to drown their sorrows, ever since alcohol prices skyrocketed.
Noting the soaring liquor prices, wineries are cleverly planning to lure them in the direction of wines, by bringing down their prices. For the wine industry which has been struggling to deplete its 2.3 crore litres of surplus stock for nearly two years now, the recent taxation on hard liquor came as a much necessary, and well-timed stroke of serendipity.
MiD DAY had earlier reported that following the taxation imposed on liquor, Mumbai's hospitality industry had witnessed a significant 10 per cent decline in beer sales.
(May 19, 'Dip in beer sales this summer.') Liquor companies were compelled to increase their prices in April, following the steep hike in excise duty on liquor products imposed by the Maharashtra state government.
This new tax structure also imposed a 50 per cent duty hike on country liquor and Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) and an exorbitant 100 per cent duty hike on beer.
Wine, however, enjoys a 100 per cent excise duty exemption in Maharashtra.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Jagdish Holkar, president of the All India Wine Producers Association (AIWPA) said, "Since April, wine sales have shot up, by at least 30 per cent. This can be attributed to the hike in hard liquor prices."
He continued, "A thorough analysis of our clientele revealed that till date we have only been catering to the taste of the elite.
We realised that it would be more profitable for us in the long run if we could expand this wine-bibbing clique to include the middle classes.
Some wine companies came up with clever strategies and brought down wine prices. This has diverted the attention of the alcohol drinkers towards wine." Holkar revealed that the cost of wine is likely to come down by 35 per cent soon.
This means that a bottle of wine will soon be available for the throwaway price of Rs 100 to Rs 150.
A wine shop owner from Pune spoke about the changing trends in alcohol consumption, noticeable among the youth.
In his opinion, "It is the youth mostly who prefer the healthier wine to hard liquor, as an accompaniment to their fare at restaurants. Concern for health and price are the two major factors pulling crowds in the direction of wines," he said.
Holkar revealed that owing to low grape production due to climatic factors, wine production has gone down from 15 million litres to 7 million litres this year. "Looking at the current trends, we are anticipating that wine sale will remain high for next few years as well," he said.
Rajesh Jadhav, director of Rajdheer Wines, Nashik said, "The rise in wine sales cannot be attributed solely to the recent hike in liquor prices. The different factors will become clear only by the next financial year."
Jadhav admitted that wine sales had gone up, compared to last year.
A senior official from the excise department grudgingly agreed with Holkar's contention, saying, "This is considered off season for wine sales, yet sales are constant. So it can be said that sales have gone up."