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Australian wine exports continue to grow in value

Australian wine exports continue to grow in value

Australia overtook France to become the number one imported wine category in mainland China by value in the first five months of 2019.

Overall, the value of Australian wine exports has continued to grow in the 12 months to June 2019, increasing by 4% in value to $2.86 billion.

China continued to drive growth and the United States of America (US) also made a welcome return to growth.

Export volumes decreased by 6% to 801 million litres (89 million 9 litre case equivalents); this volume decline was driven by a decrease of 7% in shipments of wine below an average value of $2.50 per litre free on board (*FOB).

This resulted in a 10% increase in the overall average value of exported wine to $3.58 per litre, the highest level since 2009.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said the growth in value and the declines in volume at that lower end of the price spectrum would be welcome news to the sector that has been focusing strongly on growing value rather than volume.

"The strong growth in average value is positive for the wine sector and the broader economy as it lifts returns for wine businesses and flows through to regional economies through higher grape prices," he said.

"Our National Vintage Report 2019 released last week shows that the average grape price has lifted for the fifth year in a row, reaching $664 per tonne, the highest level since 2008.

"The turnaround in exports to the US, which grew by 2% in value to $432 million, is pleasing. Average value increasing 6% to $2.83 per litre, the first growth in two years, rewards the efforts of the many exporters who are working actively in that market to change perceptions about Australian wines and communicate about the diversity and excellence of Australia’s offering.

"There were increases across most major price segments in the US with the stand out segment for growth being $7.50 to $9.99 per litre FOB."

Clark said Australian wine exports to China (including Hong Kong and Macau) had reached a financial year record, increasing 7% in value to $1.2 billion. However, volume decreased 16% to 154 million litres (17 million 9-litre case equivalents) as exports of wines below $2.50 per litre FOB declined.

Australia is well-placed in China, currently sitting behind Chile and France in export volume and second to France in export value. Australia’s imported market share has jumped 13 percentage points since 2015 to 24% based on volume; compounded by the recent contraction of the total import market.

Clark said that the United Kingdom (UK) market had experienced a slight decline with value decreasing 3% to $373 million and volume declining 4% to 236 million litres (26 million 9-litre case equivalents). Average value increased 1% to $1.58 per litre. The volume decline reflects that some of the larger brands have wrapped up their strategies of getting additional product into market pre-Brexit to mitigate any disruption to exports.

"It’s important to retain perspective on the UK market," Clark said. "Research by IRI shows Australia was ranked number 1 in still wine off trade [retail] sales in the 12 months ended March 2019, with a market share of 24% in volume and 23% in value."

Off-trade sales in the UK for Australian wine grew 1% in the year ended March 2019 to £1.2 billion. The key areas of growth were wine priced between £5.01–7.00 per bottle (up 1%), £8.01–9.00 (up 10%), and £10.01–20.00 (up 4%) (IRI Worldwide). Australia has the highest share (30%) in the £5.01–6.00 per bottle segment.

Clark said Australian wine supplies would remain tight in the medium term with last week’s National Vintage Report revealing that the 2019 vintage was 1.73 million tonnes, just one per cent below the 10-year average. This means that supplies, particularly of reds that dominate Australian exports, will continue to remain stable.