BARS AND NIGHTCLUBS across Spain have struggled to stock their shelves since Covid-19 restrictions on social life were completely lifted last month due to supply chain problems caused by the pandemic.
Common names affected include Beefeater gin, Absolut vodka, and Patron tequila.
The shortage is causing concern in a country where social life is concentrated outside the home, and large groups often gather for appetizers or dinner followed by rounds of drinks.
« The shortage is not generalized, but it is concentrated in some brands. The problem is that these are brands that are very attached to them, » said Roberto Ausillai, manager of the Los Olivos Beach Resort in Tenerife, part of the Spanish Canary Islands.
At Cafe Comercial, one of the oldest cafes in Madrid, bottles of some of the popular drinks are in short supply.
« It is difficult to get deliveries. It is impossible to find certain types of gin, tequila and whiskey, » famous cafe manager Raul Garcia told AFP.
« Lack of stock is affecting well-known global brands that we never thought would be unavailable. »
« delivery problem »
The shortage is caused by the global shipping crisis, sparked by an increase in demand from China and the United States, « which affects all international trade, » the Spanish association of spirits manufacturers, Espiritusos Espa, said in a statement.
Suppliers suffer from a shortage of bottles and cartons needed to package alcoholic beverages, as well as a shortage of drivers, containers and trucks to ship them.
« It’s not a product availability issue, it’s a delivery issue, » said a spokesperson for French Pernaud Ricard, the world’s second-largest maker of spirits.
He said other European countries, including the UK, have also been hit by some alcohol shortages, but in Spain the problem is exacerbated by the country’s consumption patterns.
The spokesman said bars and restaurants account for nearly half of alcohol sales in Spain, compared to only a fifth in France, where supermarkets account for the bulk of sales.
When business in Spain rebounded after virus restrictions were removed, this more complex supply chain had to « get up and running again » — a process that takes time, he said.
‘There are alternatives’
Daniel Metier, an analyst at London-based alcohol consultancy IWSR, agrees that the Spanish supply system is « fragmented and involving many players », adding to the difficulties.
« Spain is the country in the world with the largest number of bars and restaurants per capita, » he said.
He said that during the months when Covid-19 had restrictions on social life, pubs had reduced their orders and liquidated their stock of alcohol and it would take time to replenish them now that business had rebounded.
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He said, « They have a long way to go. »
Spain’s Soul Makers Association predicts the problem won’t last long, but with the busy Christmas holiday fast approaching, companies are worried.
Ucelay, manager of Los Olivos Beach Resort, said he was told it would take six months to get some champagne brands.
« That’s too long, » he said.
Vicente Pizquita, a spokesman for Noche de Espana, an association representing the nightclub sector, said the problem would persist « as long as the market is not more resilient ».
“We have a problem with some brands, not with the types of alcohol. Spain is an important maker of spirits and has brands that are still available in all categories.” « There are alternatives. »
« Spécialiste de la télévision sans vergogne. Pionnier des zombies inconditionnels. Résolveur de problèmes d’une humilité exaspérante. »