Coronavirus Is Disrupting The Wine Trade And Major Events

This weekend, the organizers of ProWein, the annual wine trade fair in Düsseldorf, announced the conference would be postponed in light of health concerns surrounding the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. While hardly the first trade show to be cancelled or postponed due to the virus—the news came a few weeks after the 102nd China Food & Drinks Fair in Chengdu was delayed for the same reason, as was ITB Berlin, Geneva International Motor Show and many others—it is the first major international beverage event to reschedule programming.

Combined with concerns over production and export logistics, the potential long-term effects of this epidemic on the industry at large remain to be seen.

“It’s a disruption in the marketplace,” says Rob Tobiassen, president of the National Association of Beverage Importers. “These are major events where importers and foreign producers get together to talk business.”

Many members of the wine industry now wonder if Vinitaly, the trade show scheduled for April in Verona, will proceed as planned, or might also be delayed as a result of the rapidly spreading virus.

With almost 90,000 confirmed cases in at least 67 countries recorded at press time, health authorities are worried Covid-19 is becoming a pandemic. In addition to growing health concerns, it presents an array of economic implications. Cargo ships are being quarantined in port, and factories are anticipating slowdowns in the production of everything from Bratz dolls to Diet Coke.