November 2020 – “Squeezed Middle”, Mid-scale vineyards can prosper despite challenges

The phrase ‘the squeezed middle’ – sometimes used to refer to mid-income households – has relevance to the viticulture sector.

Thought to have been first used by Ed Miliband or Gordon Brown, the expression came to mind recently when the team and I were doing some number-crunching.

We were studying the data for hundreds of viticulture businesses in the 2017 UK Vineyard Register (the latest stats available) and checking companies’ websites – a process which yielded some fascinating insights.

Quite how much of total production was accounted for by a relatively small number of the biggest businesses should perhaps be no surprise; only 50 vineyards seemingly produce more than half the volume. The same is true of the large number of small operations that, although numerous, still only collectively accounted for a small percentage of output.

I was struck by how those at either end of the size spectrum, as in any sector of industry, are often best placed.

Big firms can have the benefits of economies of scale, they have momentum, marketing budgets, access to the latest technical expertise and cash for investment.

 Article by Matthew Berryman Open PDF

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