The high price of New Zealand wines is key to developing consumer confidence in the consistent quality of the country’s exports, according to JF Hillebrand’s New Zealand branch manager Olivier Daull.
The average price of a bottle of wine from New Zealand in the UK comfortably outstrips any other country, but Daull said this is all part of the country’s strategy.
Speaking at the New Zealand Winegrowers trade tasting at Lord’s cricket ground in London yesterday, Daull told the drinks business: “New Zealand cannot compete with the likes of Australia and France in terms of volume. The strategy is not to be everything to everyone, it’s about being a niche player with a high price point and consistent quality.
“This is absolutely key to the New Zealand wine industry. You will never find a bottle of New Zealand wine at around £3, you get an average of around £6 and above. Consistency in the pricing is also key to reinforcing the consistent good quality of the wines.”
Daull admitted that the country is currently a little too dependent on the UK, which accounts for around 35% of its total global exports.
“I think New Zealand needs to spread the risk a little wider,” he claimed, adding: “At the moment I know there is quite a big push towards the US and then you have China, which represents a massive opportunity.
“We used to ship maybe just a couple of containers to China a few years ago, now we are shipping dozens and dozens.
“Obviously red is the main wine of choice currently in China, which doesn’t help New Zealand very much and consumers there are very much pulled in by big brands from Bordeaux.
“So we are starting from a very low base but I believe that if New Zealand emphasises its image of consistent quality and introduces a few good brands we will see wines from New Zealand develop a good reputation in China. It will take time but people in this industry are patient and I believe we will get there.
Daull also commented on New Zealand’s dependence on Sauvignon Blanc.
He said: “Sauvignon Blanc still accounts for around 78% of New Zealand’s wine exports.
“It’s a problem. If consumer tastes were to change it could be very difficult for New Zealand.
“Having said that, the country has built its reputation around Sauvignon Blanc and if you speak to any buyer in the world, when they think of New Zealand they think of Sauvignon Blanc.
“New Zealand fails to reach the same heights of quality and credibility in other varieties.
“However, the last five years have seen a realisation of the need to place less dependence on Sauvignon Blanc and we are seeing some great results from the likes of Pinot Noir and Syrah, as well as Rieslings. Producers are really trying hard.”