By Andy Young
The Rabobank Quarterly Global Wine report has highlighted the continued growth of New Zealand’s wine exports, while also pointing out the real risks of the country’s one variety from one region wine industry.
The report also highlights that the balance of global wine stocks in early 2016 is very different at opposite ends of the value market.
The report says: “The lower end of the market – generic and basic wines – continues to contend with surplus supply, while stocks of super-premium wines remain a bit tighter across many regions.”
One of the reasons for this, according to the report, has been the demand from China for more premium bottled wine. This is something that has benefited Australian producers, with the report saying: “Bottled wine exports [from Australia] rose by nine per cent in volume, while bulk exports only grew by four per cent in volume, signalling that this structural shift in how Australian wine exports are packaged has begun to mature, further aided by the Chinese market’s preference for source-country bottling.
“The Chinese market was that standout performer in 2015. Bottled shipments grew by 55 per cent in volume and 63 per cent in value during the year, catapulting China/Hong Kong into the position of Australian wine’s most valuable export market.”
That position regarding the China/Hong Kong market is one which TheShout reported on last week after speaking to the general manager of marketing at Wine Australia, Stuart Barclay. Barclay said that the Chinese and Hong Kong market has now overtaken the US in total turnover, following a 66 per cent rise over the last year. l
But it’s New Zealand and the continued growth of its wine industry which feature prominently in the Rabobank report. The report highlights that New Zealand is riding high on global trends, saying: “New Zealand’s cool climate wine styles and premium positioning remain very much in its favour in most major markets. For some time now, New Zealand wines have become representative of how consumers – from across the UK, mainland Europe and Australia to the US and Canada – all seem to be willing to pay up for more expressive and lighter-bodied wines.
“And there is little evidence of this trend reversing any time soon. In fact, the growing role women and younger generations play when it comes to purchasing decisions only seems likely to further support it.”
However the report adds: “At the same time, despite its popularity, the high degree of exposure that the New Zealand wine industry has to one variety from one region still makes its fortunes the subject of great conjecture.
“The risk is real, with there being no shortage of cautionary examples of shooting stars within the global wine market over the years. But contrary to the view of those aficionados who might look to belittle the ‘simplistic’ style of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, many, many more are still drawn to its refreshing style.”
Earlier this year TheShout spoke to the head of Dan Murphy’s wine panel, Peter Nixon, who said that he felt Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’s dominant place in the Australian market could soon be challenged over the next 10 years “as people increase their repertoire of styles. Nixon added that he thought dry, pale rosé and prosecco would be most likely to challenge Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’s dominant position. It’s a sentiment echoed in the Rabobank report.
“Inevitably,” the report says, “demand will indeed plateau and even wane in markets, as we are currently seeing in the Australian market, where penetration is approaching mature levels and demand is becoming increasingly price sensitive.
“Elsewhere, however, there still remains considerable room for profitable demand growth, as this inflexion point still seems some way away. But what is nevertheless concerning for many in the industry is that this apparent upside is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of the country’s larger wine producers.”