Record Austrian exports defy forecast

Austrian wine achieved record exports of €126 million last year, despite a 25% drop in volume.

Latest figures from Statistik Austria reveal that, despite exports falling to 46.5m litres in 2011, the country achieved a 2.6% increase in value exports.

This resulted in a surge in Austria’s average price from 2010’s figure of €1.98/litre to €2.71/litre in 2011.

The news contradicts a forecast by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) at the end of last year, which suggested that wine exports would “stagnate” as a result of small harvests in both 2009 and 2010.

Much of this uplift in value can be attributed to the country’s bottled wine exports. Despite volumes of bottled wine declining by 13% to 39m litres, Austria saw the value of this sector grow by 5% to €117.5m, with the average price of bottled wine rising from €2.5/litre in 2010 to €3/litre in 2011.

Attributing Austria’s record breaking year to “the outstanding efforts of our winemakers,” Willi Klinger, head of the AWMB, remarked on the country’s success in avoiding excessive discounting.

“The wines are no longer offered at giveaway prices,” he insisted. “There are fewer special offers at the lowest prices – a segment for which, in Austria, we cannot produce cost effectively, and nor do we want to do this. But even despite the rising average prices, Austrian wine is still a great value because of its excellent quality.”

Describing results from the UK, which saw value exports rise by 10.6% last year, as “extremely positive”, the AWMB picked out this market, together with the Netherlands and Scandinavia, as “becoming more and more important volume-wise in the high average price segment.”

Germany remains by far the largest foreign market for Austrian wine, accounting for 55% of total exports, although it was one of the few to record a slight decrease in both volume and value last year.

Meanwhile the US, Austria’s third-largest export market after Switzerland in second place, saw value exports rise by 8.9%, despite a 3% volume slip.

Setting out targets for the future, Klinger stressed the need for Austria to focus on improving its value exports even more. “We must further increase bottled wine exports and, even in the higher harvest volume vintages, increase the average price to € 3 per litre,” he set out.

Estimating Austria’s potential export volumes at “60 to 70m litres”, a significantly higher figure than last year’s 46.5m figure, Klinger suggested: “an export value of around €200 million could be achieved.

Looking forward to the prospect of releasing wines from a higher yielding vintage than the small 2009 and 2010 crops, Klinger concluded: “The 2011 vintage will bring us closer to this goal, because we’ve harvested a plentiful amount of perfect grapes.”

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