British boozers could end up paying up to £1.50 extra per bottle on many European wines while choosing from a reduced range because of post-Brexit paperwork, merchants have cautioned.
Importers said the cost of new customs declarations combined with higher haulage prices would hit UK drinks in the pocket – while flat-rate costs per shipment would push wholesalers to offer a narrower variety of wine.
“We are looking at a totally avoidable increase in the cost of wine across the board,” Jason Millar, a director at wholesaler Theatre of Wine, told the Financial Times. “Many importers will cut wines, not because they don’t believe in them . . . but because they don’t feel they are able to muster enough volume.”
Daniel Lambert, a wine wholesaler who imports two million bottles a year, said he believed Brexit bureaucracy would add up to £1.50 to the price of a £12 bottle of wine.
A Porto-based retailers reportedly told customers this week that one of its best-selling wines – which had cost less than £5 – would now cost up to £8.
Around 28 million Brits drink wine at least once a month, according to analysts, importing $4.4 billion annually – more than $3 billion of which is from the EU.
‘Taken for a ride’
The news comes after a Leave-voting fish merchant declared Brexit an “absolute nightmare” for the industry, admitting he “made a mistake” by voting to sever ties with the EU.
“The reality is, it’s now 20 January and we haven’t yet sent a consignment to Europe from Brixham,” Ian Perkes told BylineTV. “Forty-four years I’ve been selling fish, and overnight it’s pretty much been destroyed. I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel as we speak.”
Perkes added that he felt like he had been “taken along on the ride” by promises made by Johnson and others during the referendum campaign in 2016.
He said: “I think I was taken along on the ride that we all were on with the bus going around, we were going to save £350 million per week that we were throwing to Brussels, we were going to have this free trade and Europe were going to be desperate for our fish because we’d have control of it all and we’d be in control of our own destiny.
“I’m coming to the end of my career, but I think me and many others have perhaps made a mistake. I just thought there’d be a better future for myself and for my children, and my children’s children, to become independent and have our own fishing grounds.”