Australia assesses uneven performance

20th January, 2014 by Gabriel Stone

Australia saw global wine volume exports fall by 6% in 2013, although their average value rose by 1%, according to figures released today by Wine Australia.

Premium-OzFigures in the latest Wine Export Approval Report December 2013 show that the average value of Australian wine exports last year rose to A$2.59 (£1.39) per litre. This increase was largely driven by a 3% rise in the average value of bottled wine exports to A$4.58 (£2.45) per litre.

However, this uplift was accompanied by an overall volume decline to 678 million litres with a total value of A$1.76 billion, down from the 721m litres and A$1.85bn value reported a year ago.

Describing conditions for Australian exporters as “challenging,” Wine Australia’s acting chief executive Andreas Clark said: “The decline in bottled Australian wine exports across higher price segments in many of our major markets is a concern and shows the industry has a long way to go to improve returns for winemakers and grape growers and achieve long term profitability.”

Clark also highlighted the varying performances within single markets such as the UK, where around half of Australian wine exporters increased the value of their exports while the other half saw their value exports decline.

Overall the average value of exports to the UK increased, with a 2% rise for bottled wine to A$3.82 (£2.05) per litre and a 4% rise for bulk wine to A$1.06 (£0.57) per litre. Australia remains the UK’s largest wine supplier in the off-trade.

Despite acknowledging that exports fell in four out of Australia’s top five export markets, Clark insisted: “There were some positive developments that show the industry’s efforts to create a greater awareness of the quality, diversity and regionality of Australian wine is achieving cut-through, although there’s a big job ahead.”

To illustrate this, he noted that although exports to the US were down, their average value increased for the first time in seven years. Meanwhile in Canada Australian wine exports grew by 7% with a 1% increase in the average value of bottled exports to A$5.11 per litre.

As for China, where Australia is the second largest exporter after France, Clark pointed to “a significant decline in bottled exports at the end of last year.” As with many other drinks producers exporting to China, he attributed this to “austerity measures” introduced by the Chinese government at the end of 2012.

Nevertheless, China remains the biggest market for Australian wines above A$7.50 per litre.

Looking to the future, Clark outlined plans to build on the “positive sentiment” following Wine Australia’s Savour Australia 2013 forum. He outlined a programme of “educational and promotional” initiatives for the year ahead, including the Australia Today 2014 Wine Australia Roadshow, which is currently underway in the US and Canada, as well as the Australia Day Tasting in London next week and the Wine Australia Seminar and Grand Tasting Roadshow, which will take place across China in April.

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