A bartender arranges bottles. / ÑITO SALAS

Alcoholic drink supply chain problems could dampen the Christmas spirit

Restaurants, bars and nightclubs are already out-of-stock of some brands and the president of the Malaga Distributors Association, Salvador Pérez, acknowledges that the situation is "quite worrying"

JUAN SOTO

After overcoming the worst of the Covid crisis the hospitality sector in the south of Spain is facing a new challenge in the run up to Christmas with some popular alcoholic beverages already missing from their shelves.

The distribution and logistics problems being suffered worldwide has hit the producers of alcoholic beverages and spirits hard and who, for a few weeks, have not been able to find a way to get their products to consumers.

The stock shortage has already been noticed, mainly in bars and clubs, and some have not received all the items they have ordered for more than two weeks. At the moment, there are only shortages of specific drinks and certain brands, although the situation shows no sign of improving in the short term and could worsen with the increase in consumption that occurs during the forthcoming holidays.

Behind the drinks shortage are a number of factors, especially the increase in the cost of maritime transport, the lack of raw materials and even Brexit. All of them, combined, have dealt a blow to the distributors, restaurants, bars and consumers facing the run up to the Christmas holiday celebrations.

Logistical problems

The hospitality sector recognises that certain brands are currently out-of-stock and the Spanish Federation of Spirits explains that it is not due to increased consumption but to logistical problems. The association recognises that the Covid crisis has impacted on the entire chain necessary for the marketing of spirits, including the supply of bottles, cartons, aluminium and the raw materials necessary for the distillation of alcohol.

"Quite worrying"

The president of the Malaga Distributors Association (Adisabes), Salvador Pérez, acknowledges that the situation is “quite worrying” and does not rule out that the situation will worsen over the next few weeks; particularly when business dinners and Christmas lunches begin.

"Distribution problems are affecting all sectors and that is why we are concerned," he says.

Stockpile

Pérez confirms that they cannot currently order certain brands because "the manufacturers themselves don’t know when they will be able to send them." He adds that in all the catalogues there are out-of-stock products and confesses that everyone is trying to stockpile to avoid shortages on key dates. “I have serious doubts that we can have a normal Christmas; we are going to have problems with all the suppliers," he warns.

Although the main problems are being experienced in the hospitality sector, Pérez does not rule out that the situation will end up spreading to supermarkets, which are the ones that are resisting the best for now - although there are already empty shelves in some.

“The manufacturers are sending less than what we order. If you buy 20 pallets from them, maybe they will send you five, or all of them - but three weeks later than you expect”, he says.

Higher consumption on the Costa del Sol

The drink distribution issue is a generalised problem that affects the entire country, although Adisabes recognises that the Costa del Sol will take the brunt because consumption at Christmas is higher than in other areas. And what is worse: "We do not know when it will be resolved, since some brands tell us that there will be no solution until next year."