WELLINGTON: Continued strong growth in export demand for New Zealand wine is rapidly depleting inventories after a light 2015 harvest. Rabobank’s latest wine quarterly showed export volumes increased 8.5% in volume and 13.1% in value over the 10 months to October 2015.
Average export prices have edged up in all major markets since the harvest, despite growth in bulk wine export volumes (up 13% year on year) outpacing that of bottled wine exports (up 6.6%) over the period. Australian wine exports increased 5.8% in volume and 10.9% in value in the first 10 months of 2015. The surge was due mostly to growth in bottled wine exports, largely stemming from the strong rebound in demand from China.
Exports to China over the period grew 77% in volume and 61% in value on the previous period and the combined China-Hong Kong markets now ranks as Australia’s No1 export market by value.
Meanwhile, the Argentine wine industry has received a new lease on life, with the election of new president Mauricio Macri. Implementation of various dramatic measures to reverse policies of the previous administration had implications for the global wine industry, the report said.
The devaluation of the currency was making Argentine exports more price-competitive in international markets, and the elimination of the export tax made exporters more profitable. An Argentine consulting firm estimated Argentina’s wine competitiveness in the global market increased 50% “virtually overnight”.
Wine imports into the United States continued to grow in the first 10 months of 2015, heavily supported by the strength of the US dollar and driven by “premium-isation” trends in the US market. Bottled wine imports from premium suppliers, particularly those in Italy, France and New Zealand, continued to grow, while bulk wine imports were generally soft.
Meanwhile, China’s soaring demand for Australian wines has helped push the value of Australia’s wine exports to their highest level since before the global finance crisis. The value of wine exports to China grew 66% to $A370million ($NZ397million) in 2015, new figures from industry body Wine Australia show.
Worldwide, Australian wine exports grew 14% to $A2.1billion – the highest value since October 2007 – and growth was recorded in every one of the top 15 export markets for the first time.
It’s the second year in a row that the value of wine exports has risen, with a 2% gain in 2014, and a welcome turnaround for winemakers who saw export dollars decline over the preceding six years. Another positive development was a big increase in higher-value bottled wine exports and a decline in cheap bulk wine sales as Australia tries to build a reputation as a producer of quality mid-market and premium wines.
Accordingly, the volume of wine sold overseas increased at a lower rate of 6.4% to 744 million litres for the year. The United States remained Australia’s most valuable export market. Americans spent $A443million on its wines in 2015, a rise of 4%. In the United Kingdom, Australia’s biggest market in volume terms, sales were up just 0.2% at $376million.
China is in third place but could yet overtake the UK. Fifth-placed Hong Kong and China combined represent the biggest market for Australian wine and government agency Wine Australia noted that in the final three months of 2015 wine exports to China exceeded UK exports by $A39million and reached almost the same level as the US.