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Vinexposium CEO: cost of living impacts on-trade recovery

Rodolphe Lameyse, the CEO of Vinexposium, said the cost-of-living crisis was hampering the on-trade’s post-pandemic recovery as consumers are returning to at-home consumption.

Rodolphe Lameyse Vinexposium CEO
Vinexposium CEO Rodolphe Lameyse

Speaking at a media briefing in London ahead of Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris 2024 next February, Lameyse quoted IWSR Drinks Market Analysis data, which suggested consumers were moving their drinking occasions from the on-trade to the home, with the exception of Asia.

He noted that consumers in Europe were reducing their spending across the majority of FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) categories. In markets outside of Asia, alcohol is often one of the first items to be cut from household spending when cost-pressures occur, Lameyse said.

However, he did highlight the ongoing premiumisation trend, with declines across value and standard-priced wine, beer and spirits, and increases in the super-premium-and-above segments.

“Wherever you are in the world, you are facing increasing prices,” Lameyse said. “The war in Ukraine accelerated after Covid, as shortages put pressure on prices.

“Inflation is putting a lot of pressure on different companies, it’s not only wine decreasing, but all of the alcoholic beverages. With inflation and everything, people are drinking alcohol at home again.

“The impact for us, we can measure on the Horeca [hotel, restaurant, catering] business. Horeca businesses are really under pressure. People are spending less in restaurants, and the shortage of staff is a big issue.

“Everything is creating a snowball effect with difficulties arising. But people seem to be more optimistic about the next 12 months. At the moment, we are at a turning point in the whole industry.”

Lameyse praised the spirits industry’s success in appealing to younger legal-drinking-age audiences with “high prices, high margins, fancy marketing and advertising”, something he said the wine sector has struggled to do.

He noted that “one-third of Generation Z in France is not drinking alcohol because of health reasons”, plus a dislike for the taste of wine.

He said this was also due to “pressure from the anti-alcohol lobby”, which he said was “very powerful”.

Be Spirits growth for 2024

With so many “macroeconomic” factors at play, Lameyse stressed the importance of the 2024 Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris event.

Set to take place from 12-14 February 2024, the Be Spirits hall will cover 25% more floor space next year. There will be 25 different types of alcoholic beverages on offer, including Tequila, umeshu, vermouth, vodka, whisky, mezcal, Calvados, Cognac, Gin and more.

In 2019, Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris spanned two halls, but will have grown to seven rooms by the next event.

The trade fair is expecting a 35% increase in visitor numbers to 40,000 guests, with 3,900 exhibitors set to showcase their products.

In September, The Spirits Business attended the inaugural spirits-focused Vinexpo Explorer event in Quebec, Canada.

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