At a press conference May 29, members of the southern French wine industry agreed on a comprehensive plan which will aid the sector following the coronavirus disruption.
The “unprecedented” scheme aims to safeguard jobs, boost sales and help the region and its wine producers regain market share over the next 18 months.
Furthermore, it intends to help companies develop multi-year trading partnerships, increase the rate of premiumization in the wines, and safeguard the production of the region’s distinctive dessert wines (vins doux naturels).
The scheme has the backing of the regional council, regional business and marketing boards, wine industry trade unions, the regional Chamber of Agriculture and wine trade bodies including Inter Oc (Interprofessional Council of wines from the Pays d’Oc), IVSO (Interprofessional Council of Wines from the South West of France), CIVL (Interprofessional Council of Languedoc Wines), CIVR (Interprofessional Council of Roussillon Wines) and the Gardoise, part of Inter Rhône.
A total of €14 (€7m each) will be coming from the Regional Council of Occitanie and business and marketing boards.
Support will be given to companies to assist them with their marketing expenses, including participating in trade fairs, while €0.5m will also be allocated towards a campaign promoting the region’s wines. 80% of the budget (the €14m) will take the form of direct aid for businesses.
A further €20m will come from wine trade bodies. Inter Oc is contributing €14m, while the CIVL, CIVR and IVSO are each giving €2m to the cause.
The recovery plan will be presented to the vote of regional elected representatives in July.
Languedoc winemaker, Gérard Bertrand, said: “The region and all the players in the Occitanie wine sector have come together and mobilized to collectively build a stimulus plan of unprecedented scale in France with regards to the resources that have been contributed.
“With direct aid for wine companies, in particular for marketing, collective actions and promotion, we are ready to act on all fronts: to secure jobs, promote local development of activities and stimulate the reconquest of markets in France and internationally.”
In addition to national government schemes, the region has been supported by a number of measures during the Covid-19 crisis. Wine firms have been able to take advantage of the Fonds de Solidarité Régional (Regional Solidary Funds) which gives aid to businesses who have not had access to a state-guaranteed loan (PGE). Companies have also been given extensions, postponements or exemptions from loan repayments. In addition, the Solidarité Alimentation Occitanie, launched in March, has helped promote local deliveries in order to for the economic activity in the region to be maintained.
Occitanie is the administrative region formed in 2016 from the merger of the Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions
It comprises over 270,000ha, producing 14m hectolitres of wine, and boasts 93 appellations including 59 PDOs. It is viticulturally diverse, with some 150 native and international grape varieties grown. Around 22,600 wine-related companies operate in the region – employing 100,000 people – with a turnover of €1.3 billion. Wine grapes represent 20% of agricultural production in the region (in 2017) and wine worth €925m was exported in 2018.
Sources: Drinks Business and the Regional Council of Occitanie