The US may overtake Britain as the biggest consumer of Australian wine as exports increase exponentially.

Sales of Australian wine in the United States rose by a whopping 43% in the last year. Exports are set to be more than AU$2bn (€1.1bn) by the end of June this year.

According to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier this week, the US is set to overtake Britain as the biggest individual buyer of Australian wines, with March sales of AU$66.03m as against sales of AU$66.79m in the UK.

Australian winemakers have spent massive sums consolidating a foothold in the lucrative US market. The weak Australian dollar has given the country’s producers a significant price advantage over their US rivals.

Added to that, Australia’s major producers Southcorp, BRL Hardy and Foster’s have forged distribution and other deals with US producers and distributors.

In June 2001 Hardys formed the group Pacific Wine Partners with US distributor Constellation Brands – and acquired California’s Blackstone Winery some months later. In August 2000 Foster’s merged with US winemaker Beringer.

Written by Adam Lechmere, and agencies8 May 2002