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Aussie wine begins to bounce back in the US

Primary Industries

Australian wine exports to the United States have returned to growth after more than a decade of declines.

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Exports to the US in the past 12 months increased by 2 per cent to $432 million (US$304 million) with increases in value across most major price segments.

This is good news for an already buoyant Australian wine industry, which is enjoying unprecedented success in Asia on the back of record exports to China where it has this year overtaken France as the number one imported wine category in mainland China by value.

Figures released yesterday by Wine Australia show the value of global Australian wine exports grew by 4 per cent in the 12 months to June 2019 to AU$2.86 billion (USD2.01 billion).

More than half of this value comes from exports from South Australia, the country’s biggest wine producer. South Australian exports accounted for $1.79 billion of the value.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark released the latest Export Report yesterday at the 17th Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference in Adelaide, the capital of  South Australia.

Clark said the fortunes of Australian wine in the United States appeared to be slowly turning around after year on year declines since peaking in value in 2007.

He said the US will be the target of a major Wine Australia marketing campaign in September and October, which aims to fuel a new era of growth.

“To recover the loss in value it’s critical that more exporters re-enter the market,” Clark said.

“We cannot rely on one or two brands to turn the needle in the premium segment in the US but we firmly believe the US presents a great opportunity, albeit a challenging one.”

The increase in value of wine exports to the US was tempered by a 4 per cent fall in volume for the year to 152 million litres. Commercial unpackaged, or bulk wine, accounted for 45 per cent of exports to the US and declined by 3 per cent in volume but increased in value by 5 per cent.

The average value of Australian wine exported to the US rose by 6 per cent to $2.83 (US$2) per litre. This was significantly lower than the $3.58 a litre (US$2.52) Australian wine exports average globally and less than half of the $6.64 (US$4.67) average price per litre of Australian wine headed to China.

However, it is the premium bottled wine segments where the Australian wine industry is pushing to make ground in the US and raise its average price per litre. Australian wine priced between US$8 and $15 per bottle retail has grown by 29 per cent and wines above US$25 a bottle have grown 10 per cent in the past year, albeit off relatively low bases.

The state of South Australia produces about half of Australia’s wine and 80 per cent of its premium wine. It includes the renowned regions of Barossa and McLaren Vale.

Clark said discussions with US distributors and retailers last year confirmed Wine Australia’s belief that there is a significant opportunity in the premium wine market in the US for Australian wine across key varieties such as Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

“We are hitting the US in a big way this year with our $8 million Far From Ordinary campaign. This is our single largest marketing campaign ever,” he said.

“To my mind it is absolutely critical that we turn the US around for the long-term viability of the sector.

“It will take long-term investment and it won’t happen overnight.”

About 63 per cent of Australia’s total wine production is sold overseas by 2729 active exporters.

The United Kingdom is Australia’s largest market by volume (235 million litres) on the back of a high proportion of bulk shipments but it sits third behind China (US$840 million) and the United States for value.

Canada is Australia’s fourth highest wine market by volume and value. Exports to Canada fell 4 per cent by volume to 65 million litres and 0.4 per cent by price to $198 million (US$139 million) in the year ending June 30.

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