McDowell Ties Up With US, Aussie, French Firms For Bulk Wine Import

Mumbai, Aug 25: | Updated: Aug 26 2002, 05:30am hrs
Sensing opportunities in the bulk import of wine, UB Group company McDowell & Co Ltd has tied up with three wine majors - Wente Wines of California, Sandalford of Australia and Borie-Manoux of France.

McDowell has already started importing bottle-in-origin (BIO) wines from these companies and selling these brands through its distribution network. The company is currently evaluating the options of import in bulk and bottling in India, which is much more cost effective.

Confirming the move, a top company official said, There is a huge potential for growth in the wine segment and we are looking at every single opportunity.

Even as BIO spirits attract heavy duty, for bulk import there is a window of opportunities as it attracts no duties. McDowell believes that there is a very big franchise for wine in the country as the category is growing very fast.

The company also has similar plans for bottling the bulk imports of scotch whiskies, tequila, bourbon and cognac.

These latest moves are aimed at negating the advantage of multinational companies following removal of quantitative restrictions (QRs) and lowering of import duties as per the WTO regime. Moreover, its arch rival Shaw Wallace & Company (SWC) has already entered into a marketing and distribution alliance with UK-based Kyndal, and is also in talks with various wine-makers for foraying into bulk import. McDowell & Co Ltd also has a presence in the wine market through its alliance with the Italian wine-maker Bosca.

The company is already present in wine market with two brands in premium range - Bosca Reisling, red and rose wines. Bosca is manufactured at Baramati Grape Industries Ltd and sells over 15,000 cases per annum.

The wine market in India is still in its infancy, where 5 lakh cases of wine and 30,000 cases of sparkling wine and champagne are sold annually in the country as compared to 37 million cases of whisky, 11 million cases of brandy and nine million cases of rum.

However, the wine market is growing at 30 per cent annually, according to industry estimates.