Indian winemakers seek national industry forum

Indian winemakers seek national industry forum

Mumbai: In an attempt to fend off growing competition from multinationals, Indian wine manufacturers are uniting under a common forum. At least 48 local winemakers, including leaders such as Champagne Indage Ltd, Sula Vineyards Ltd and Grover Vineyards Ltd, are proposing a common manufacturing and marketing strategy.

Meanwhile, the local industry is also pursuing a “wine board" to be set up by the government, which will set quality and cultivation standards for vineyards, grape procurement and contract farming regulations among others. Most of the wineries in India are located at Nashik in Maharashtra and certain districts in Karnataka because the grapes grown in these areas are the best suited for winemaking.

Sula’s chief executive officer Rajiv Samant said the move to form a national industry body is mainly aimed at creating a common platform for the sector to discuss important issues pertaining to regulations, industry recognition as well as internal discipline for the common good of the sector.

“It will help to represent ourselves before the government and other agencies through a single voice to secure our rights," he said.

Shivaji F. Aher, chairman and managing director of Renaissance Vineyard Ltd, added: “Since the competition in the market is getting intense now, the local industry has felt the need for an internal discipline as well as some consensus on the marketing and even pricing to ward off the unhealthy competition within itself."

In the last couple of years, the Indian wine market, which sees sales of six million cases a year, has been witnessing frequent launches of new brands by local affiliates of international drinks companies, such as Seagram India Ltd and Diageo India Ltd.

“At an yearly growth of 25-30%, India is one of the fastest growing wine markets in the Asia Pacific region," says Asif Adil, managing director, Diageo India, which launched its first range of wines, dubbed Nilaya, last week.

Seagram, the Indian arm of the world’s second largest drinks company Pernod Ricard, which launched its Nine Hills wine here last year, is also expecting aggressive growth and is planning to increase production capacity by around 60-70% annually, for the next few years.

India-based multinational liquor maker, the UB group, is also entering the wine market with the Four Seasons brand later this year.