Accolade Wines’ proposed buy-out of Riverland winegrowers, CCW Co-operative’s contracts has been overwhelmingly rejected my the co-op’s members.

The proposal would have enabled members to sell parts of their red wine contracts with Accolade for $4000 per hectare. The buy-out was proposed in order to help manage oversupply of bulk wine, where demand has declined but supply has remained at a consistently high level.

In its proposal, Accolade said: “The Australian wine industry is facing an unprecedented combination of external challenges. Increased costs, softening consumer demand and the loss of, and anticipated slow re-entry to, the bulk wine market are all contributors.

“As a result, the market value of grapes – particularly red grapes – is now unsustainable and below production costs. Something must be done to keep our industry alive and thriving for many years to come.”

The Co-op’s AGM was held on Tuesday night, and 95 per cent of members voted against the offer, with 314 against and just 17 in favour.

CCW Co-op General Manager Peter Szabo said the offer, as well as no Budget support from the Government didn’t offer enough security to grape growers.

“Unfortunately the government budget has offered no money as support to the growers and that makes it really difficult to transition into change because there’s no free capital.”

Monash grower Paramjit Singh Bagri told ABC the offer was simply too low.

“What they’re offering us is not fair, it’s a mean offering. They are starting to play with us,” he said.

“$4,000 is nothing these days. It wouldn’t even cover the post removal.

“We need $50,000 per hectare. If they gave us that much money we could leave tomorrow.”

In a statement Accolade Wines said it was disappointed with the result of the vote.

“The package was the only measure put forward to date, by any party nationally, to support a difficult, but much-needed industry transition to a more sustainable footing,” the statement said.

“It was also the only initiative that gave all parties some control over this process, through key terms including price, tenure, varietal mix and an optional exit package.

“It is not realistic to expect that the industry can keep operating as if global operating conditions and demand-led influences have no impact on our respective domestic interests.

“If there is no change, grower and winery businesses will continue to suffer.

“The outdated and inflexible structure of the current supplier agreement between CCW and Accolade Wines has caused significant damage not only to growers but also to the company over an extended period.”

Accolade said the Board will now consider the impacts of the CCW decision, and its implications.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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