New Zealand expects a small 2012 vintage, which is likely to put the brakes on its decade-long growth spurt.
The industry is predicting crops could be as much as 30% lower compared to 2011’s 328,000 tonne harvest.
A lighter crop could lead to a grape shortage, which marks a massive turnaround for an industry that has been burdened by oversupply since 2008.
Stuart Smith, chair of industry body, New Zealand Winegrowers, told decanter.com: ‘I expect that the vintage will be around 300,000 tonnes. However, even if we had a 328,000 tonne harvest like last year, we would still be short by about 10%. We now have very low stocks on hand and export sales are growing at a good rate.’
Export sales have grown from just 23 million litres in 2002 to 154m litres in 2011, and are worth NZ$1.1 billion compared to $246m in 2002.
‘If we get a 300,000 tonne vintage, growth will stop because we won’t have any stock; even if we get 300-328,000 tonnes there will be practically no growth.’
In 2011, bulk represented around 20% of total volumes compared to just 2% in 2007, and it is likely that bulk sales will fall with a light crop. The industry also hopes profitability will improve with less availability.
Smith claimed that retail prices may not alter significantly in the short-term. ‘Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc may not change much at all but there will be less of the bottom priced-wine.’
Written by Rebecca Gibb