Australia puts quality centre stageBy Gabriel Stone
Australia’s fine wine producers have received a welcome boost as Wine Australia pledged to invest AUD$35 million (£17.2m) annually for the next five years in a bid to lift the demand and premium paid for its wine, while raising the industry’s competitiveness.
Today saw the publication of the organisation’s “Strategic Plan 2015-2020”, which represents the first stage of what Wine Australia’s chairman Brian Walsh described as a 30-year, “ambitious, cross-generational goal” for Australia to be recognised as “the world’s pre-eminent wine producing country.”
Introducing the plans, Walsh confirmed: “Over the next five years, we will annually invest somewhere in the order of $35 million in research and development, building markets, disseminating knowledge, encouraging adoption and ensuring compliance as we work towards our goal of a united and prosperous Australian grape and wine community.”
The funding will come from a combination of grape grower and winemaker levies and the Australian government, which has a programme to match funds for research, development and extension projects.
Reinforcing observations made earlier this year by Brian Croser, board member of the recently established Australian Grape & Wine Authority, about the country’s upmarket shift in focus, Walsh confirmed a more concerted commitment to supporting Australia’s top quality producers.
“We believe that it is time to sharpen the focus on our distinctively Australian fine wines and what makes them special,” he commented. “Our natural endowment of diverse, unique and superior terroirs, combined with our skilled and innovative people, means that we have the capacity to be recognised as the best in the world.”
In order to achieve its first objective of increasing the demand and premium paid for Australian wine, the organisation set out a series of strategies. These range from a promotional programme in key markets to protecting the reputation of Australian wine with initiatives such as an annual analytical survey, and supporting high quality grape growing.
As for increasing competitiveness, Wine Australia’s work will focus on areas such as improving the country’s sustainable resource management, driving greater efficiency in vineyards and wineries, opening up market access and gaining greater intelligence on the business front.
The plan defined success in these twin objectives as achieving an average price per litre for Australian bottled wine exports that is “at or near the highest average price per bottle of our global competitors by key markets”.
It coupled this with an aim for the country’s grape growers and winemakers to “achieve a reduction in the gap between the costs of managing their vineyards and wineries and those of our competitors.”
To read the full Strategic Plan 2015-2020, click here.