Australian wine exports are booming - and China is the thirstiest market

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Australian wine exports once again posted double-digit growth in the 12 months to September 2018 and are now worth $2.71 billion.

The value of exports grew by 11%, but reflecting an increasing taste for premium drops, volumes were up 5% to 842 million litres – 94 million cases of wine.

Five years ago, the export market was worth $1.813 billion.

Bottled wine shipments rose by 8% in value to $2.16 billion and 2% in volume to 366 million litres (41 million cases), but with companies such as Treasury and McGuigan also bottling overseas, shipments of unpackaged wine skyrocketed, jumping 23% in value to $525 million and 9% by volume to 468 million litres.

The average value of wine exported was up 7% for bottled wine to $5.90 per litre, with unpackaged wine rising 13% to $1.12 per litre. The overall increase was 5% to $3.21 per litre.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said growth over the last year was “strong and sustainable” making it the third year of double-digit growth.

“These figures are the result of a lot of hard work by Australia’s 2401 wine exporters,” he said.

“In the 12 months to 30 September, there was healthy growth across the price spectrum. Exports above $10 per litre increased by 20% to $804 million, with the $20 to $29.99 segment in particular, showing considerable growth. Below $10 per litre, the $5 to $7.49 segment was the star, growing by $50 million,” he said.

More than 60% of the country’s wine is shipped overseas.

Exports grew in all major markets except the USA. Sales to Canada increased by $16 million, but America’s dropped by $38 million, leaving the North American market in negative territory. The US also drank 11% less Australian wine, slipping into third place behind China, which drank 25% more – some 19.5 million cases.

The UK remains Australia’s biggest market for cheap wine, taking 26.5 million cases, up 6% on a year ago, while ranking third by value.

Northeast Asia now accounts for nearly half of total exports by value at $1.14 billion, having grown by a staggering 24% in the past year. The vast bulk of that figure is China at $1.06 billion.

Clark said that growing the Chinese and US markets was a key focus in the federal government’s $50 million wine export support program.

“We are seeing strong growth in China and we have redoubled our efforts in the USA to capture more of the premium end of the market as American consumers trade up to higher priced wines,” he said.

“There is positive sentiment about Australian wine in the USA among key influencers and consumers. While consolidation at the distribution level of the three-tier system is proving to be a difficult barrier to overcome, the hard work of Australian exporters willing to get in to market is starting to pay off.”

On-trade sales in the US increased by 4% in value in the 12 months to June 2018 at $US267 million (Nielsen-CGA), while off-trade sales were up 3% to $US522 million over the same period according to external analysis, Clark said.

“In the off-trade, ground is being made at premium price points, with Australian sales up by 1% in the US$15 to $19.99 per bottle segment and up 29% in the US$20 to $24.99 per bottle segment,” he said.

Australian cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay were delivering solid sales growth, Clark said, and combined with a better exchange rate, he expects the US market to turn around in the year ahead.

It was good news in other markets, with Southeast Asia growing by 5% to $170 million, Europe up 5% to $604 million ($380m of that figure is the UK), Oceania improving by 21% to $105 million, and even the Middle East delivering major growth at 41% to $30 million.

Here’s a breakdown of Australia’s wine export industry by country, as well as as an overall snapshot of the 2018 sales.

Wine AustraliaAustralian export wine sales over the last 12 months

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