Posted:Thursday, 01 February 2024 11:07
Turbulent times for Austrian Wines being tackled by AWMB
It became obvious in 2022 that the end of the coronavirus pandemic would not automatically bring about a rapid market recovery. The war in Ukraine, together with rising inflation and high interest rates, is causing severe economic upheaval- particularly in terms of a steep increase in costs. Austrian Wine responded to this with well-targeted initiatives in both the domestic and international markets. Over the past year, Austrian Wine has organised 160 events at which they presented over 9,600 Austrian wines from over 900 wineries.
Sales campaign in the domestic market
Wine sales struggled in 2023, in both the Austrian on-trade and off-trade. There was only slight growth in wine revenue (on-trade: 2.7%, off-trade: 2.0% in Q1–Q3 of 2023), while sales dropped slightly (on-trade: (1.8%) and off-trade (2.5%) with Austrian winegrowers feeling the pinch due to this sluggish market situation. In response, Austrian Wine increased its activity in the domestic market in autumn and winter 2023, running promotional initiatives in the on-trade, off-trade and wine tourism activities. It also focused on advertising in western Austria, where a lot of domestic wine is sold during the winter season. A country-wide social media campaign run by the organization also drove demand for Austrian wines.
Stabilizing the domestic market through exports
In a bid to stabilize the domestic market, Austrian Wine also focused their efforts on the international markets in 2023. Every bottle of wine exported takes a little bit of pressure off winemakers who sell their wines in Austria. This is particularly important, given that the market share of Austrian wine on the domestic market is traditionally very high (market share in value was 84% in the on-trade, 76.6% in the off-trade in 2022).
Bringing international wine experts to Austria
Austrian Wine was particularly active in the export markets in 2023. One of the key focuses was wine trips to Austria thanks to Austrian Wine which organised 66 wine trips for 406 international wine experts with 569 visits to wineries. These trips enabled visitors to experience the quality of Austrian wines first-hand and expand their professional network by connecting with local wine producers.
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Tastings around the world
Meanwhile, Austrian Wine also organised tastings, stands and participation in the trade fairs and other promotional activities around the globe, including major initiatives targeted at the German and American off-trade, participating in ProWein Düsseldorf and ProWine China with representatives from hundreds of Austrian wineries, and their signature Austrian Tastings in London and Stockholm. Austrian Wine organized 142 export activities in the international markets where they presented over 8,000 Austrian wine labels.
Slow prospect of recovery
Despite all these actions, exports are still laggards and continue to inflict pain due to the dismal global economic situation. Austria had clocked an increase in value of exports of 26.8% in 2019-22 despite the pandemic. However, growth in 2023 is expected to be small, as indicated by the figures for the first nine months, during which the individual export markets behaved very differently.
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Some markets, such as Germany, Canada and Asia, experienced growth, while others shrank. Despite sluggish markets, the conversations with international industry specialists suggest that Austrian wines are in tune with the times. High-quality, fresh wines that are produced with an environmentally conscious approach are just what many consumers around the world are looking for. Conditions look good for Austrian wine exports to pick up quickly once the economy recovers.
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Focus for 2024: the domestic market and VieVinum
Again this year, Austrian Wine has defined an extensive range of initiatives for 2024. Driving sales in the domestic market will be a key focus, as well as the biennial wine fair VieVinum in Vienna in June, 2024 to boost exports. Austrian Wine CEO Chris Yorke explains thus: All of our activities are aimed at providing the best possible support for our winegrowers in both the domestic and international markets. It is important that we consolidate all our energy and tackle these turbulent times together. I’ve always believed that one of the greatest strengths of the Austrian wine industry is the way we pull together.
Austria offers high quality white wines like Riesling, Grüner Veltliner and Sauvignon Blanc from Styria, and red wines like Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch (known as Kékfrankos in Hungary) and St. Laurent as well as sweet wines from Burgenland including icewine (despite their losing a bit of shine as a category). This small nation needs more presence on the plates and palates of wine connoisseurs around the world including India where they offer an excellent match with Indian food.
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