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Aussie Wines still in a Downward Spiral

Posted: Wednesday, 25 May 2011 15:35

Aussie Wines still in a Downward Spiral

May 25: The Australian wine industry is still headed South and is experiencing its worst period in two decades with wine sales falling at the worst annual rate in 21 years with sales during the last quarter falling to 95 million liters, according to the figures released by Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The domestic producers are facing a double-edged sword as the sales of imported wines has kept on increasing. It now accounts for a record 14.8 per cent of sales, up from 3.3 per cent a decade ago.

"These are the worst times that we've experienced in our industry in a generation," Winemakers Federation Australia acting CEO Andrew Wilsmore said He said a global oversupply of wine coupled with the higher Australian dollar had seen international wines, including traditionally expensive varieties such as Champagne, available at more competitive prices.

He also rued the strengthening of the Aussie dollar. He said if the Australian dollar had remained between 70-80 cents, as it was a couple of decades ago during the boom period of Australian wines, the industry would have been more sustainable.

During the March quarter, wines from Italy and France recorded a surge in Australia compared to a year earlier, while Chilean wine sales doubled, according to the ABS figures. However, while New Zealand wines remained the most popular of the imported varieties; they sell seven times the sales of the second highest country, Italy, their sales fell nearly 10 per cent, indicating that this love affair of Aussies might be waning.

Australian Liquor Stores Association Chief Executive Officer Terry Mott said, according to the news report in WAToday, the quarterly figures did not account for Easter being later this year and simply reflected the general downturn in the retail market, with consumers becoming more conservative.

He said the Australian dollar was supporting a flood of imported wines, particularly the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – Aussies have fallen in love with the Marlborough offerings.


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