Navigating Winery Vendor Consolidation

Experts to discuss effects of mergers in a different segment of the wine industry

by Stacy Briscoe
In the past decade, the number of vendors selling capsules, closures and labels declined by 22%.

San Rafael, Calif.—According to listings in the Wines & Vines Buyer’s Guide directory of wine industry vendors, the number of companies serving the North American wine industry in the categories of capsules, closures and labels has dropped by 85, from 462 in 2008 to 377 today: a 22% decrease in the span of 10 years. These include acquisitions and companies that closed or left the wine industry space altogether.

In the wine industry, purchasing decisions are often spread across multiple departments: winemaking, finance, marketing and, of course, packaging, among many others. Best practices regarding organizing and aligning these purchasing decisions can ultimately affect a winery’s business. With the consolidation of several packaging companies over the years, are those decisions getting easier with the limitation of options or is it getting harder due to the lack of vendor variety?

At this year’s Wines & Vines Packaging Conference, Lisa Ehrlich, proprietor of her eponymous wine and spirits consulting firm, Lisa Ehrlich Consulting, will be leading a panel discussion on the consolidation of wine industry vendors and what wineries can do to help organize and align their purchasing decisions. “My goal for this panel is for those attending to come away with practical tips for getting better results and saving money on, their package purchasing,” said Ehrlich in an interview with Wines & Vines.

Ehrlich iterated that the consolidation, not just among suppliers, but among wine producers as well, is making purchasing competition fiercer; it’s harder for medium and small wineries, not under a larger brand name, to bargain and make profitable purchasing decisions. She’s looking to provide insight to those boutique producers on how to make practical business decisions that will help them save money and, ultimately, increase profitability.

The panel of experts will include Rich Bouwer, COO of Free Flow Wines; Pedro Fernandes, general manager of Amorim Cork America; and Mark Peters, director of label operations production and planning for G3. Each will speak on building and maintaining solid vendor relationships, how to assess the viability of those relationships with regard to building a solid wine business and brand and how to stay well-informed about all available options within the industry’s supply chain.

The Wines & Vines Packaging Conference takes place Aug. 9 at the Lincoln Theater in Yountville, Calif. The full-day conference concludes with a ceremony to announce and honor the winners of this year’s Wines & Vines Packaging Design Awards. Winners will be announced in the categories of best classic format, bust luxury design, best alternative format, best series, best redesign and best in show winner.

The top 50 entries from the contest will also be on site at the conference so attendees can review them as well as vote for the “people’s choice” winner that will be announced that day.

More information and tickets available at wvpack.com.

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