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Export prices for Bulgarian wine do not cover production costs

Date: 26.07.2008

A little less than a month after Bulgaria sent its National Programme to Support the Viticultural and Oenological Sector 2008/2009 to 2013/2014 to the European Commission for approval, industry players met to discuss where things were going on July 17 2008 in Plovdiv.

The seminar, entitled Development and Realisation of Successful Europrojects in the Field of Viticulture and Oenology/???????????? ? ?????????? ?? ??????? ??????????? ? ???????? ?? ??????????? ? ???????????, took place in the conference hall of Plovdiv municipality.

Opened by Konstantin Madjarov, a member of the managing team of the National Vine and Wine Chamber, one of the main topics of the seminar was the necessity to increase funding to grape growers, and not just the winemakers themselves, reported on July 17.

“Surplus value from the sales of wine is not being seen in Bulgaria,” Madjarov said, continuing on to explain that the money paid to daughter companies in Bulgaria tended to reach only wine producers, leaving viticulturalists and vineyards in the dust.

Grape growers in Bulgaria – be they individual farmers or co-operatives – have beento fight for fair prices for their crops, if they can find buyers for them at all.

In addition, once grapes become wine, the market worldwide has become so oversaturated that merchandising what has been bottled is only another hard sell.

To top it off, the price for one exported bottle of wine – 71 eurocents, about 1.50 leva – only just covers the complete cost of production.

In 2007, Bulgaria produced 1.796 million hectolitres of wine, which comprised 788 000 hectolitres of table wine, 465 000 hectolitres of vin de pays and 72 000 hectolitres of quality wine, Rossitsa Goranova, executive director the the Executive Agency for Vine and Wine, said during a talk at the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale competition held at the Kempinski Hotel Zografski in Sofia in May 2008.

Of those 1.796 million hectolitres, 1.125 million hectolitres of wine were exported in 2007, 912 000 hectolitres (81 per cent) of which was bottled. Russia was the recipient of 730 000 hectolitres (65 per cent) of the total amount of exported wine. It was followed by Poland (16 per cent), the UK (three per cent), Germany (2.8 per cent) and the Czech Republic (two per cent).

Such figures go to prove how much capital Bulgaria has lost in doing what should otherwise be a profitable economic exercise.

At the July 17 Plovdiv conference, Madjarov expressed his frustration with such realities, situations that he said could be ameliorated by expanding the fields into which Bulgarian wine reaches – namely, through wine tourism.

As a side note, given Bulgaria's history, the country could be considered the birthplace of wine: the god of imbibing, Dionysus, also known as Zagrei (????e?), was a figure of ancient Thrace, and, there is archaeological proof of wine being made in what is now Bulgarian territory as far back as 6000 BCE to 3000 BCE.

The recent creation of wine routes here has facilitated the touring of Bulgarian wine country; Madjarov hoped that such tourist opportunities would encourage holidaymakers local and foreign to visit other areas of the country, not just the mountains and the Black Sea coast resorts.

Madjarov also recommended that less wine – but of a better quality – be produced.

A report on the Plovdiv seminar by Darik Radio supported what Madjarov said on the issue of production of smaller quantities of better wine. According to their article, it was with such practices that Bulgaria would have a chance to be respected as a wine producing country on the European market.

The European Union has funding for such projects, Nikola Hristovich from consultancy firm Finsys said at the seminar, as reported by Darik, with 3.24 billion euro being designated as available for these initiatives in the country.


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