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Innovative measures taken by Amorim Top Series and the spirits sector in response to the Covid-19 crisis

As the severity of the Covid-19 crisis seems to be beginning to wane and lockdown measures are starting to ease in many countries, vigilance to prevent a new surge in infections remains vital.
Amorim Top Series and its clients have implemented a series of innovative measures to ensure the employees’ safety, maintain the supply chain and also help broader efforts to combat the crisis.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the wine and spirits market, especially in on-premise sales, in restaurants, bars or tasting rooms, many of which were temporarily required to close. These reductions have been partially offset by take-away services and by significant growth of online sales of wine and spirits.

In April, Forbes reported a major spike in wine and spirits sales, especially amongst alcohol e-commerce platforms such as Drizly, which recorded a 300% increase.

In May, market research company, Nielsen reported that: “During the seven-week COVID-impacted period ended April 18, brick-and-mortar alcohol dollar sales were up 21%, while online sales of alcohol have skyrocketed to over 2X that of a year ago, up 234%. In fact, alcohol is the fastest growing e-commerce department among consumer packaged goods (CPG), and weekly growth has continued.”
Nielsen disclosed that by late April, online sales of alcoholic beverages were almost 500% higher than in the same period in 2019.
Chinese online wine sales, which represent around 30% of total sales, compared to 7% in the US market, have also expanded during the Covid-19 crisis, driven in particular by Millennial drinkers, as well as retail strategies that link social media with sales platforms.
Off-trade sales via major supermarket chains have remained relatively buoyant but smaller retail outlets have suffered significant cutbacks.
Several sectors have suffered major challenges.

In June, The Spirits Business provided in-depth analysis of the impact of Covid-19 on the Scotch whisky trade.
It noted that according to trade body the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the industry has significantly scaled back operations to protect the safety of staff and many have joined the fight against Covid‐19 by switching production to make hand sanitisers and ethanol to support health services.
Many distilleries ceased operations during the peak of the pandemic and are now resuming activities, with physical distancing measures and smaller teams.
Distilleries that have shifted much of their operations to produce hand sanitiser include South African drinks group Distell.
Scottish drinks group William Grant & Sons also pledged to make 13.5 million bottles of hand sanitiser.
Spirits giant Diageo pledged to provide more than 8 million bottles of hand sanitiser to frontline healthcare workers in the UK, Ireland, Italy, the US, Brazil, Kenya, India and Australia.
The website, Distilled Spirits, listed over 800 US distilleries that are making hand sanitizer to fight Covid-19.
Beverage companies have also donated funds to support food banks, vulnerable communities, blood donations and health care staff.
Visitor centres, shops, restaurants, cafés and tasting areas linked to distilleries – a growing business that has attracted significant recent investments – have all been forced to close during the height of the pandemic.
Several whisky festivals in Scotland have also been cancelled, in some cases switching to digital events. Digital wine and spirits tastings is another growth area.

In June, there are already some optimistic signs of market recovery.
For example, Suntory Holdings’ CEO Takeshi Niinami was cited by Reuters and Bloomberg stating that sales are now recovering in Japan and beginning to expand worldwide.
As a leading supplier of capsulated cork stoppers to the global spirits sector, Amorim Top Series, and the Amorim Group in general, has striven to ensure its supply chain in this unprecedented situation.
Reinforced Clean&Safe measures have been introduced in the workplace, including voluntary temperature checks, physical distancing, access control, staggered entry and exit of shifts and sectors and staggered meal times.
The Amorim Group has also donated ventilators, electrocardiographs, ultrasound scanners, masks, visors, glasses, gloves and gowns to hospitals, local authorities and associations.

Hugo Mesquita, Amorim Top Series’ Sales & Marketing Director, sums up: “Having never stopped production during the pandemic, we remain absolutely committed to serving our Clients worldwide, while protecting all our stakeholders and the Community in which we operate. We will definitively get out of this much stronger if we all support each other!”

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