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Australian exports to China and US point to tentative recovery

Exports of higher-priced Australian wine to China and the US are growing, according to new figures – but the industry remains cautious in the face of the strong Australian dollar.

‘Exports have increased at the higher end’

In the year to March 2013, 1,395 companies were involved in the export of Australian wine, up 10% on last year, according to the Wine Export Approvals Report March 2013, released by Wine Australia.

Export volumes edged up 2% to 719m litres, worth a total of AUS$1.85bn, with the average value of bottled wine exports rising 2% to AUS$4.43 per litre.

Australia exported 4m litres of wine valued above AUS$7.50/litre to the US, up 2% on last year, with a similar increase in exports above $10/litre to Canada.

In China – despite a major decline in lower price segments – exports above AUS$7.50/litre were up 28%, with average value rising 18% to AUS$5.85/litre.

However, this represents a slowdown compared to the annual average growth rate of 43% over the last five years for wines above AUS$7.50/litre.

‘The growth in wine exports at higher price segments in markets such as the US and China, and the increase in the number of companies exporting wines, are both positive indicators for the Australian wine sector, but the industry remains cautious,’ said James Gosper, general manager market development at Wine Australia.

‘In the US, we’re starting to see a real change in sentiment. Not only are the top wine commentators and distributors talking more positively about Australian wine, but exports have increased at the higher end, albeit off a smaller base.

‘For those wine producers that have continued to support the US, the premium wine message is starting to achieve cut through, although there is still significant work to be done.’

After enduring a decade-long glut, Australian wine is returning to a balance between supply and demand – but the continuing strength of the Australian dollar is hampering export trade.

Image: Wine Australia

Written by Richard Woodard

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