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A rise in shipping costs and a scarcity of raw materials such as glass, cardboard or cork, essential elements of a finished alcoholic product, are pinpointed as possible causes for the low stocks of gin in Spanish bars.
Harvy Orozco, who runs several leisure and restaurant businesses in Chueca, in the centre of Madrid, told Spanish paper 20 minutos he hasn’t had any supply issues yet but has received concerning news from his distributor this week.
He said: “He tells me that there is a very serious problem of brands and distribution of drinks.
“This is going to be a mess.
“Now everyone will be buying drinks like crazy to have stocks and I’m going to do the same.”
Supply chain issues have led to bars running low on certain gin brands
Daniel Mosquera, owner of Pub Folks in A Coruña, is already finding it challenging to source products.
“Where we notice it most is in gin,” he said, adding that the shortage of the bigger brands may give smaller retails a chance to grow.
Mr Mosquera doesn’t see the shortages as a big issue for now.
He said: “When you don’t have one brand, customers choose another one.
“People know about this [the shortages], and if they don’t, we explain it to them.
“If this were to spread to many products and we ran out of goods, it would worry us, but we don’t think it will happen.”
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Determined to ensure all brands are available on his shelves, Iván Losada, manager of pub El Pirata, in Madrid, quickly reacted to distributors’ warnings weeks ago and turned to wholesale shopping.
He said: “I’m not going to be affected because I bought enough, but others may have problems.”
Vicente Pizcueta, a spokesman for the National Association of Leisure and Show Businesses, said the fact that “good brands of gin, vodka, rum and whisky are produced in Spain” will prevent the supply chain issues from causing chaos in the country.
Admitting that pubs and nightclubs may suffer from the lack of “favourite” brands due to “international transport problems”, Mr Vicente assured “there will be alternatives”.
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Antonio Cendra, owner of Sala Macao in Logroño, believes there is “too much panic” over “what may come”.
He said: “There is a lot of stock.
“We would need an absolute disaster to happen for it to become a problem.”
Mr Cendra stressed people would have to buy compulsively — “go crazy” — to truly impact the market, which he doesn’t think will happen.
Post-lockdown effects: When bars in Spain reopened, demand for alcoholic products skyrocketed
Meanwhile, some restaurateurs are condemning not so much the lack but the price of gin.
Roberto, from Madrid, told Spanish paper ABC that, besides alcohol, he had noticed a wider “scarcity of British produce”.
The Spanish Spirits Association attributed the issues around alcohol stocks to a “perfect storm” caused essentially by the coronavirus pandemic.
Due to Covid, demand became unpredictable, suggested Bosco Torremocha, president of the association.
During last year’s lockdown, sales fell by between 30 and 50 percent – then growing rapidly as soon as bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen.
This extreme fluctuation, combined with the transport crisis, which has seen huge bottlenecks in international trade, have made post-Brexit imports “difficult” according to Mr Torremocha.
Carlos, the owner of Madrid nightclub Panda, said he has for now not faced any sort of difficulty in getting his usual supplies.
“We will be alert to what may happen,” he said.
“I don’t think it will go any further.”
Suggesting that panic-buying is not the way to go, Carlos emphasised the team at Panda hasn’t made any more purchases than usual in case of future issues – a decision that, if followed by the rest of the industry, could be key in alleviating more severe shortages in the weeks to come ahead of Christmas.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega