How Wine Buyers in The UK Pick Wine for Their Portfolio
In conversation with LWC Team at London Wine Competition is Renato Ferreira, wine buyer at Atlantico UK.
The UK market for wine is quite a large one as you might already know, and everyone wants to get their wines into the UK market. However, due to various reasons, getting your wine into the UK might be a little tough.
Atlantico UK has been in the importing/distribution business for 25 years. It started with José Cruz, a Portuguese immigrant who is passionate about products from his country. He started importing wines from Portugal to the UK, as he noticed the lack of Portuguese wine for the Portuguese population at that time. After Renato joined Atlantico UK they expanded the wine selection by importing and distributing Brazilian, Spanish, Italian wine along with Portuguese wine.
25 years later, Atlantico UK distributes to restaurants, bars, stores, and retail chains across the UK.
Hear from Renato, who talks about Atlantico UK and shares all about how he picks wine for Atlantico’s portfolio.
Tell me a little about yourself
I started working for Atlantico in January 2019. Before this, and after seven years working in the wine industry, I took a friend’s project doing wine pairings for him. Through that project, I started buying wines from Atlantico, and they showed interest in me. What they want me to do, and my aim here is to open the market for Atlantico outside the Portuguese and Brazilian community and give a wider choice to our consumers also increasing our reach.
Whenever you’re picking a wine, where’s the first place you go to?
So, for me the first few wines which I check out were Portuguese wines then Spanish wines and Italian wines - especially from the well-known regions like Rioja in Spain. These are well-known wine regions, and I know they will sell almost by themselves, so I always tend to search first there and then for more unique options to open the market, I later investigate other options.
So, when a winery/producer is pitching to you, what are the things you look at before selecting their wine?
The UK market is very large, and everyone wants to get into it because of its prestige. So, whenever a winery is pitching to me, the first thing I would look at is the samples they send. This can be a little hard at times because it’s an investment to send wines all the way from Portugal and Brazil without knowing
if there is going to be made a sell - but this is what makes me see if the winery is interested in being represented by us. Because without samples, I cannot ensure the quality of potential and existing clients.
Another thing I look at is the support marketing material that they send. It’s very important for them to send me their propaganda, story, wine tech sheet, and all the marketing material. This is because when I am going out to sell the wine, I should know everything about the wine and when clients and businesses ask questions, I should have answers for them. So yes, good marketing material and samples will help as they will empower me to make the deal happen and therefore make money out of that.
What are your thoughts on the packaging of wine? How important is that?
Nowadays, packaging is one of the most important things in wine. This is because when people go to shops, they tend to buy what they are looking at. At first, people used to buy wine by the name of the house - without looking at anything else. But right now, people are trying a lot of new wines so when they’re buying, they can’t taste the wine, which makes packaging and label the first thing they look at.
What’s your perception of the quality of wine? How important is that?
Quality is the key, especially when we are selling to restaurants. Because in restaurants, guests drink right there and then, and bad quality wines never work. But again, I think what matters is putting everything together. So, if you have a good quality wine, and your packaging and label are bad then it won’t sell. Similarly, if you have good packaging and label, and not so good quality wine, that’s not going to sell either.
How do you decide the pricing of wine?
So that is very sceptical, it really depends on what sells more. When people buy very big volumes from me, I tend to reduce the price, perhaps reach a short of the package and include several options - it doesn’t matter what the name of the wine is. But pricing wine is also very hard right now because of all the taxes in England and competition. But eventually, it all works out and we make it happen between producer and us, so everybody assures financial satisfaction. That’s what it is all about in the end.
How do you think Brexit will impact the industry?
Brexit, what a harsh word!! being delayed all the time made market instability and no one really knows what new rules and taxes are going to be implemented if increasing or decreasing the final product will be a reality and when. This is making people stop investing in wine, but in the end, consumers are still going to be drinking wine, that is guaranteed. The demand would still be there, so distributors and producers will still have to sell the wine. The only thing that I guess will change will be the price, prices might increase - but wine will still be in high demand for the UK market.
So Atlantico sells to both stores and restaurants. Can you expand a little on the difference in selling to both?
Well, the major difference is that in stores the margins are low, and in restaurants the margins are high. Restaurants’ approach usually is related to the food and clientele, they buy the wine and add their margin to it, according to the Gross profit calculations. But stores can’t do that because when people buy from stores, they can’t taste the wines and it is not coming with food. But actually, in restaurants due to wine by the glass programs I, get better flexibility. So, having has an example when a restaurant reaches an agreement in having a six to twelve-month contract with us, then the prices drop. But with stores, because it’s always on demand versus supply and how the wines are moving in the shelf - the price usually doesn’t drop or go high as much, like there isn’t much of a difference in price most of the time.
What are you drinking now?
Well, there isn’t anything I’m drinking particularly at the moment. My job makes me try a lot of wines so I can be on top of market tendencies, new winemakers and fashion, and I end up having a lot of different wines to try all the time. Having that said I do mostly drink Portuguese wines because I’m from Portugal and these country wines are the speciality of our portfolio and where I really need to focus my attention.