Wednesday, October 23, 2019

SVB Industry Research: The New Deal

Winning A Battle

The Annual SVB Industry Survey is closed. I've never posted those words on a blog before because that has never been news. But last Friday, because of the lack of industry response, I was convinced this would be SVB's last survey and in another first, I had to let the industry know that.

I interpreted the continuing annual trend of fewer survey responses as the industry making a universal statement that our research wasn't worth spending the 13 minutes it takes on average to complete it. I can't analyze blank cells, so without a response from wineries, I can't write the Annual State of the Industry Report with the same level of analytic support. How else am I to interpret the disastrous survey response?

I knew last Friday if I couldn't get at least 200 more responses in the 4 remaining days of this 3-week survey, there was no sense in continuing, and this was going to be the last survey the bank would produce - and the good news is I would get my November and December holidays back! So the close of the survey has now apparently become news to many people, including my family. How did we end up with responses?

Friday, October 18, 2019

Is this the Last SVB Industry Survey?

Images from Pixabay

I am trying to put the pieces together to arrive at a decision to continue or discontinue the Annual SVB Industry Survey, and I need your help to decide.

Almost 20 years ago I recognized there was a severe lack of good data and benchmarks, so I came up with the idea to start an industry survey. It was a novel concept for the era and was immensely successful. For the first time, small wineries had real business information to help in decision-making.

We gave the complete set of information and analysis to respondents and also used it to formulate pieces of the SVB State of the Industry Report. We've been fully underwriting the effort at substantial cost and producing results free of charge ever since. It has to be a labor of love on our part. I don't think anyone would confuse it with a for-profit initiative! But we are at a crossroads.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The SVB Survey is Now Open

Where are we headed as an industry? By now, everyone should be able to agree we are at an inflection point. We certainly have some obstacles to dodge. What are they? What is the magnitude of the problems? How long will we be dealing with oversupply? Where are the opportunities over the next five years? What should we do? 

We can help with some of those answers by getting you some benchmarks if you [take this year's survey]. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Wine & Milk in Decline Due to Changing Science

I was intrigued at the above video which chronicles the advent and popularity of plant-based milk products like Almond Milk and at the same time the decline in the consumption of real milk. Milk and wine were both described as a healthy part of a normal diet at one point. So what happened? It's a little bit of Deja Vu.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Get Ready For Cancer Warnings on Wine Labels

Note: There are several links to articles embedded in the post following that give more context.

Deep within the State of the Industry Report that was released in January, I discussed the Cumulative Negative Health Message that is being spread by neo-prohibitionists. That message is resonating with consumers and wine sales are being impacted, particularly among young health-conscious consumers.

In fact, the total volume of wine sold through distributors in the US has turned negative in both restaurants and grocery/drug store sales in the 12 month period ending in June of this year. When was the last time that happened?

Monday, September 2, 2019

Wine Supply is Entering Unknown Territory

Grape Supply Cycles

The wine business runs in cycles when it comes to planting. Trying to guess which grapes are needed and just when they are needed is a trick, especially when it takes 5 years to get a fully mature yield. And it's impossible to predict planting decisions effectively without making some guess on demand.

We have been through excess before, but the cycles aren't always created by the same circumstance and this one is unique.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

How Much is Your Winery Worth Today?

Change Creates Opportunity

The 2019 SVB State of the Industry Report helped change the narrative in the wine business this year. While the industry remained focused on premiumization, I had to report in January that the positive elements that created the industry's astounding success over the past 25 years were hitting a wall. We predicted that M&A would slow this year and thus far, that appears to be a good call, notwithstanding the massive sale of about thirty of Constellation's wine brands to Gallo for $1.7BN.

There is plenty of activity still. Probably once a week both buyers and sellers ask me, "what are average winery multiples?" What they are really asking is "how much is my winery worth?" But there is more to the question. They also want some color on the business environment.

As a banker, I love those questions because it means there might be a financing opportunity (...yes I do have a day job making loans, as boring as that might sound.). 

The short answer to the headline question for today, is there are still plenty of buyers but overall they are being a little more selective, and your winery and vineyard are probably not worth more than they were last year.

Without going into details on a long topic, we are presently oversupplied on grapes and bulk wine from most regions, and the upside to higher sales is for today - more limited than the past when the rising tide of higher boomer incomes along with the belief in the health benefits of moderate wine consumption lifted all boats. Today millennial consumers are spirits and beer consumers, and are trying to cut their alcohol consumption for health reasons.

There are activities that with certainty will return the growth rate in demand that we've been used to,  but that is another VERY long topic for another day. Buyers believe in the strength of the product and know there is upside given time, expertise, and focus.

As it stands, shrewd buyers and sellers are still finding agreement on price and repurposing valuable assets for tomorrow. Investors with a long view recognize the opportunity this current market change is creating. But with any sale, there has to be an offer, and an answer to the question, "How much is my winery or vineyard worth today?"