By Deborah Jackson, editor National Liquor News
The Wine Australia Export Report December 2015 shows that the value of Australian wine exports jumped 14 per cent to $2.1 billion in 2015, reaching its highest value since October 2007.
While the value of wine exports grew in 15 key markets to $2.1 billion in 2015 – up from $1.82 billion the previous year, volume went up at a slower rate, up 6.4 per cent to 744 million litres exported for the year compared to a 1.9 per cent rise in 2014.
Speaking to the National Liquor News Industry Leaders Forum, Andreas Clark, chief executive officer of Wine Australia, said: "These results are unambiguously good news for our grape and wine community and with the recent free trade agreements (FTAs) with Korea, Japan and China we should continue to see this positivity in our export figures throughout 2016."
Clark added: "Australian wine has faced many challenges over the last decade or so but with challenges, there are also opportunities. What excites me about the last 12 months is the sense of purpose I’ve felt among our grape and wine community.
"We’ve seen and reported positive export figures for Australian wine in the last 12 months. It’s still early days and the improvement we’ve seen in exports hasn’t yet flowed into higher prices for our grape growing community at large, but already there are pockets of growers who reported improved prices in vintage 2015 and we hope to see this trend continue in 2016.
"Our grape and wine community has an opportunity through the tariff reductions that are part of the three FTAs and a lower Australian dollar to reinvigorate its engagement with export markets in 2016."
Winemakers Federation of Australia's general manager of strategy and international affairs, Tony Battaglene said: “These latest figures are a good early sign that Australia is getting back in favour with some of our key markets and we hope it is just the start, with the Australian dollar playing in our favour.
“After a small increase in value in 2014 of 1.9 per cent the value jump by 14 per cent in 2015 is a shot in the arm for the industry especially as we are still yet to see the full benefits of the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement or China Australia Free Trade Agreement,” he said.
“With the right industry settings back home and an increase in investment for much-needed international marketing, the Australian wine industry has the opportunity to leverage off this growth, and regain and grow market share in key export markets underpinning a sustained boost to industry profitability in the future.
"China has already doubled its consumption of wine twice in the past five years and many are predicting it’s expected to overtake the US as the world’s largest consumer of wine this year so China still holds significant potential,” said Battaglene.
The Export Report found there were 122 more active exporters last year, with the number growing from 1395 in 2014 to 1517 in 2015.
Of the 122 nations to take Australian wine exports in 2015, the top five were:
• USA (up four per cent to $443 million in value)
• UK (up .2 per cent to $376 million in value)
• China (up 66 per cent to $370 million in value)
• Canada (up seven per cent to $193 million in value)
• Hong Kong (up 22 per cent to $132 million in value)
For more from Andreas Clark, including Wine Australia's main initiatives for 2016, read the February edition of National Liquor News. The Annual Industry Leaders Forum features interviews with many leaders in the Australian liquor industry across retailers, producers and associations.