British gin producers are warning that the price of the spirit is likely to rise sharply on the back of feared grain shortages triggered by the war in Ukraine and the spiralling cost of glass bottles.
Smaller distilleries said the forecast increased retail price for gin would be in the “pounds” rather than pence, with the managing director of one drinks firm calling the situation “horrific”.
Gin is typically made from a base of wheat, or barley, corn or rye.
A blockade on Ukrainian grain leaving the country’s ports in the wake of Moscow’s invasion is driving a food crisis and global spike in inflation.
Millions of tonnes of wheat have been blocked from leaving Ukraine, which is one of the world’s biggest exporters.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said 22 million tonnes of grain was stuck, with a further harvest of about 60 million tonnes expected in the autumn.
Ukraine has also accused Russia of stealing grain from its warehouses and taking it out of the country – either to Russian-occupied areas, Russia itself or other countries.
Russia denies it is blocking any movement of grain and says Ukraine is to blame for the lack of movement.
Ukraine’s grain exports plunged 68.5 per cent year-on-year to 163,000 tonnes in the first six days of July, the first month of the 2022/23 season, the agriculture ministry said.
Last month, the world wheat markets reached their highest price levels since 2008, which the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said was also due to an export ban announced by India partly triggered by the war.
Commenting on the impact the situation was likely to have on UK distilleries, Ian McCulloch, managing director at Silent Pool Distillers, told the i it was “horrific”. He said: “It’s everything – the cost of glass, [bottle] stoppers, anti-tamper capsules … It will be a snap change… [price increases] won’t be small.”
Russell Evans, founder of Bullards gin, told the newspaper it was “highly likely” the gin prices shoppers would pay in the future would increase.
“Manufacturers will be putting their prices up,” he said. “We were very lucky that we ordered vast quantity of bottles just before the pandemic. We’ve got a massive stock but we do need to buy some more later this year.”