March 13: Indian wineries are hoping to participate again in the London Wine Fair (LWF) 2022, celebrating its 40th year on 7-9 June 2022 at Kensington Olympia, after a gap of nearly six years. The decision to participate in the Fair was reportedly taken after a recent meeting of the All-India Wine Producers Association (AIWPA) with the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority Chairman Dr. M. Angamuthu who visited Nashik. Subhash Arora reports
I was foxed to read a recent news item in Financial Express that reported ‘India to participate in London Wine Fair 2022’, with the Chairman of APEDA Dr. Madhaiyaan Angamuthu saying APEDA will participate in various global trade platforms like London Wine Fair and Hong Kong Wine Fair to ‘stabilise our products’, implying that APEDA would hire the stand in its name and wineries would participate under its aegis at highly subsidized rates, with participants bearing their cost of travel and stay etc.
Reasons for our apprehension are not far to see. For one, London Wine Fair has lost its importance as an international Show since it turned looking inwards in 2014 when the globally important Fair changed the venue at ExCeL in London’s Docklands in 2001 back to the city of London at Kensington Olympia where it had started a couple of years after being founded in 1981. Whereas it used to be truly an important international trade fair, even christened as London International Wine Trade Fair, it changed its name to London Wine Fair (LWF) in 2014.
The changing complexion was well analysed and documented in 2015 by Robert Joseph, one of the best known journalists, critics, an author and now also a producer who said ‘The London Wine Fair has been a national event, an international event, and now a national event again’. Only 12% of the visitors are from overseas now, compared to around 20% in the fair’s heyday.
Experience of the Indian producers has not been very encouraging in the previous outings. There was an exclusive India Wine Show at Millennium Conference Center in London Kensington in 2015 by APEDA which was a one-off wine event. The success of this Road Show could not be ascertained but there was a mixed response to the one in 2013. There was yet another time India participated but the sporadic participation did not produce the desired results.
Also Read : APEDA: Ancient Sura in Vogue at London Showcase for Indian Wines
APEDA –excellent platform for wine producers
Be as it may, APEDA is a force to reckon with and their performance in promoting foods and the willingness to add wines to their export efforts is laudable. They have often offered their support to the Indian industry by free transportation and display of their samples, but the support from the industry has been lukewarm, at best. But if producers and AIWPA feel that there is a market for their wines, they should be encouraged to ride the APEDA wagon and plan on participating more often at the popular Shows, be it LWF or the universally more recognised ProWein at Dusseldorf. But as delWine often advises foreign producers who want to enter the Indian markets, the participation must be continuous for a few years. One hopes APEDA and AIWPA have discussed and agreed on the modus Operandi.
The chairman of APEDA reportedly said after his visit to Nashik that it would participate on various global trade platforms like the London Wine Fair and Hong Kong Wine Fair. ‘The Indian wine industry is growing fast and the country produces some of the finest labels in the world. We have to create a niche market with proper backward and forward linkages. Participating in various trade and business Fairs will enhance our brand value and competitiveness of Indian wines,” he said. With the quality of Indian wines improving over the last many years and many smaller producers hankering to discover new markets, there could be good potential for their products.
Jagdish Holkar, President of AIWPA opines that India is a very small wine player but the objective is to put it on the global wine map and ‘let the world know that we make good wines as well.’ He feels there is a huge potential for Indian wines in the UK and European Union (EU) due to the presence of a large Indian diaspora, Indian restaurants and interest in Indian food.
Wineries such as Sula Vineyards, Grover Zampa Vineyards Fratelli and a few smaller ones are already selling their wines in these markets but the volumes are not known, Holkar said. He also hopes the Show hosts an evening of Indian wines with dinner to be hosted by the Indian High Commission in London where the wines will be showcased.
Following wineries have reportedly agreed to participate in the Show:
1. Fratelli Wines
2. Grover Zampa Vineyards
3. Good Drop Wine Cellars
4. Hill Zill Winery
5. Moonshine Meads
6. Resvera Wines
7. Virgin hills Wines (KLC)
8. Cerana Meads
9. Soma Vineyards
Sula has decided to focus on the Indian market for the next few years and politely declined to participate. It is good to see the fruit wine and Mead producers recognised by the (grape) wine producers as one can see four such producers in the List.
Also Read : Mixed Response to Indian Participation at London Wine Show
However, there can be a slip between the glass and the lip. Dr. Angamuthu might have approved the project in principle but the proposal has not been approved by the APEDA Board yet. Getting space at a good location is always a big factor and by the time they decide, there may not be space available or they might get space where the buyer presence is minimal.
In the past, APEDA has invited wine producers to join hands with them in food shows like Anuga in Cologne, Germany. But they have been disappointed by the attitude of the producers. Let us hope this time around, with them agreeing to sponsor a wine-only show, and subsidise it heavily for the participants, it might bring the producers closer to APEDA and they might even join hands in future Food and Wine Shows.
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