This week the corks pop again: On November 18, 2021, the sale of the Beaujolais Nouveau will start as every year on the third Thursday of this month. The new wine from the French wine-growing region north of Lyon is very popular in Asia. "As always, we have reliably ensured that the bottles are on sale on time at the other end of the world," says Mikael Poncet, Managing Director at a. hartrodt France in Lyon. At the French branch, the freight forwarders worked in close partnership with airlines and customs brokers at destination. But the tense loading situation in air freight was a particular challenge.
Lead time cut by almost half
By air freight, a. hartrodt delivers the Beaujolais Nouveau mainly to customers in China and Southeast Asia. "Normally we have four weeks' lead time for logistics, but this year our time frame was reduced to 2.5 weeks," Poncet reports. Bad weather delayed the grape harvest, with historically poor quantities – "but the wine makers still expect good quality," the manager says. Despite this special situation, however, the marketing-driven sales launch could not be postponed.
Negotiated freight rates were not confirmed
Poncet puts the market volume for air freight for Beaujolais Nouveau in 2021 at about 6,000 tons, with Air France alone flying 600 tons. Due to the pandemic, however, there was less capacity than usual – "to China, for example, two to three times less," says Poncet. This caused freight rates to increase "up to six to sevenfold," he says: "What we had negotiated with the airlines during the summer was not confirmed at the end of October." Some customers withdrew in light of the price escalation, he says. Anyway, the global thirst for Beaujolais Nouveau is declining by 7 to 10 percent on average each year, according to Poncet. "In 2021, the decline could be as much as 15 to 20 percent."
Wine shipments are daily business for the Food & Beverage experts at a. hartrodt France. But on Thursday, all French employees want to enjoy the Beaujolais Nouveau together in a bar. The tradition will take place in accordance with the Covid-19 rules.