ASSOCHAM forecast of wine industry growth exaggerated, says wine expert
Moneylife Digital Team 30 March 2011

The industry body has estimated a growth of 35% by 2012 which has been contested as based on conflicting and unrealistic figures

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has forecast that the wine industry is likely to grow at around 35% by 2012, but industry experts think this expectation is exaggerated and is based on wrong figures for the past couple of years.

Subhash Arora, a wine expert who also runs the Indian Wine Academy, told Moneylife, "The ASSOCHAM report is nothing but a conflicting, confusing and confounding report." He said, "The figures are conflicting with unrealistic and unlikely growth rate projection with a very pessimistic estimate for 2008."

The ASSOCHAM report, titled "Emerging Industry trends in Indian Wine Market", states that the Indian wine market (in value terms) stood at Rs800 crore as of 2008 and is likely to touch the Rs2,700 crore mark by the end of 2012. It also says that wine consumption in India is likely to reach around 14.7 million litres (in volume terms) by the end of 2012, from around 4.6 million litres in 2008, thus registering a growth of 35%.

Mr Arora, writes on his website Delwine: "There seems to be a basic lacuna in the figures. Whatever the figures for 2008 that have been assumed, 2009 was a disaster and 2010 barely reached the level of 2009. The current year has shown buoyancy and 30-35% annual increase is most likely in 2011 and 2012. But if the figures of 2010 are assumed to be close to 2008, it would be far-fetched to expect an almost three and a half times growth during the next two years."

"The report on sales value also does not clarify whether the figures are first point sales by the producers and importers and whether they include customs duty, excise duty, VAT and other government taxes, or (whether) they are estimates based simply on the MRP of wine sold, or are ex-factory prices," Mr Arora explains.

According to the ASSOCHAM report, "around 65% of the total volume of wine consumed in India is produced locally in states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and the Punjab, as these regions are booming with a number of wineries." But Mr Arora points out that "the study fails to name Goa, which produces over 200,000 cases (1.8 million litres) of low-end fortified wine, a majority of which is consumed within Goa."

DS Rawal, general secretary of ASSOCHAM, while releasing the report said, "Favourable government policies, suitable tax structures, rising disposable income and a growth in the tourism sector are certain reasons for the burgeoning Indian wine market. Besides, the rapidly changing lifestyle and drinking habits of people (many from the middle and higher middle classes no longer prefer hard drinks) especially the younger lot, are paving the way for growth of the wine industry.

Mr Arora, who only prefers wine over anything else, jokingly says, "It is the most profound statement that people from the middle and higher middle classes no longer prefer hard drinks. If that is the case, we would be consuming over 50 million cases, not litres, annually. Such a category of people is very minuscule, though it has added to the growth of the wine industry. But to say such a thing is a purely wishful statement and a distant dream."

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