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Treasury to hike price of Penfolds

Australian giant Treasury Wine Estates will raise the prices of its Penfolds range of super premium wines from 1 July, it has been reported.

The news comes as the first containers carrying new exports of Australian wines to China following the lifting of punitive tariff barriers left Adelaide over the weekend.

While Treasury Wine Estates, which owns the Penfolds stable, has yet to reveal the extent of the price rises, it is widely expected in Australia that they will go up in all markets by at least 5% to 7%.

Treasury declined to comment on how much prices will rise but told the Australian Financial Review that demand exceeded supply globally even before the reopening of the China market, which had been its largest overseas source of sales.

“With demand for the Penfolds Bin and Icon portfolio expected to exceed availability in the short term, [Treasury Wines] will also commence working with its global customer base to finalise price increases across the Bin and Icon portfolio,” it said.

“Penfolds will retain its standardised global pricing structure in order to ensure long-term brand health and price integrity.”

Treasury has reiterated that while the reopening of China is a big opportunity. It will move cautiously and has said that it expects only a minimal earnings contribution from shipments to China in this financial year, and then “modest” incremental growth for the next couple of years.

But there is the prospect of a substantial surge from 2026 as the availability of top-tier Penfolds wines increases.

While Treasury’s Australian wines were effectively banned from China, the group maintained a large team there and continued to supply the market from America, France and from its own estates in the People’s Republic, where its bottles were highly prized and subject to regular faking.

Analysts from E&P estimate that the restart of shipments from Australia could add generate extra earnings for Treasury of about $AU 100 million by 2026.

Based on their calculation that before the COVID-19 pandemic Treasury earned between $AU180 million to $AU200 million from China annually, the analysts believe that if Australia’s biggest producer regains half of that business, it would add 10% to its annual earnings within three years.

However, the market for wine in China has changed substantially since 2020.

Since the introduction of the penalty duties, Australian exports to the market have fallen to 1.4 million litres valued at $AU10.1 million in 2023 compared with $AU1.3 billion and 121 million litres in the 12 months to the end of October 2020.

The number of exporters to the market has also decreased from 2198 to 117 over the same period.

And, while almost 90% of imported wine drinkers in mainland China told a Wine Australia survey they would be happy to recommend wines from Australia or proud to serve them, the number of wine consumers has dropped substantially as demand for spirits, especially baijiu, has risen.

Commodity priced wines have fallen from favour, and official import statistics from Trade Data Monitor, show that total wine imports to China have fallen from 688 million litres in 2018 to 248 million litres in 2023 – a third of what it was five years ago.

While much of that was due to the ban on Australian imports, In the past 12 months, the total volume and value of wine imported by China has continued to decline despite the keenness of rival countries producers to fill the gaps on shelves.

According to Trade Date Monitor, the top four countries for wine imports to mainland China last year were France, Chile, Italy and Spain, and they all recorded significant declines in their exports as the Chinese economy faltered.

The volume of imports from France fell by 29%, Chile by 18%, Italy by 31% and Spain by 48%.

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