Wine shipments to the UK from Australia and New Zealand are facing delays and extra costs due to the current crisis in the Red Sea.
Vessels are being re-routed around Cape Horn, or via the Panama Canal, to avoid the risk of attack by Houthis in Yemen.
Stuart McCloskey, who owns specialist Australian wine importer The Vinorium, says a shipment of 1,200 bottles due to arrive at the end of last year was delayed by more than two weeks.
He says shippers have been “incredibly slow to provide pricing”.
He adds: “As it stands, all shipments will go via the Cape, which is something I fully respect. Sadly, our costs will increase, which cannot be passed on to customers – another hit to our bottom line, but at least we are safe and well.”
Tony Wellings, owner of The Antipodean Sommelier wine import business, says his New Zealand shipments now come via the Panama Canal and Philadelphia, and then across the Atlantic.
“The transit time is generally shorter than through the Suez,” he says. “It can be as little as 42 days, and often there is no trans-shipment, which is preferable, especially when the stock may sit on the quayside in a hot country.”
He adds: “I had thought that with Red Sea/Suez issues, the capacity on the Panama route might be quickly swallowed up, but I am told, at the moment, our shippers are hearing of no issues. It’s just a little bit more expensive – maybe £200-£300 per container – due to low water levels and restricted traffic in the Panama Canal.
“Australia is different. Everything out of Adelaide generally comes through Suez, but anything out of Melbourne or Sydney can come either way. We just have to make sure it comes through Panama.
“Again, we’re not being told of any capacity issues at the moment and it might cost me and my Barossa and McLaren Vale suppliers a bit more to trunk stock to Melbourne.”