Australia’s wine exports slumped last year – the first decrease in volume and value for 14 years.

At the same time the average price of a litre, in the financial year 2007-08, went up slightly. This was because the decreases were driven by a substantial decline in unprofitable bulk wine shipments.

The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation said the drop in bulk wine was because of better balanced supplies following a light 2007 grape harvest.

A marked increase in the value of the Australian dollar against the currencies of the country’s two main markets – the US dollar and sterling – had also contributed to the decreases.

Shipments for the year totalled 702.1m litres, down 12% on the previous year. Value was 11% lower at AUS$2.657bn.

The average price for each litre of wine exported increased 1% to AUS$3.78.

Of the two major markets, the UK lost 5.7% in volume and 10.1% in value. That is, 265.9m litres worth AUS$876.5m.

US shipments decreased 22.5% in volume and 18% in value, dropping to 180.7m litres worth AUS$741m.

Demark recorded the biggest increase in volume and value because, the AWBC said, it is a major packager of bulk wine for Europe and because the Australian dollar had been relatively stable against the Danish kroner.

Written by Chris Snow in Adelaide