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US exports fall

US wine export volumes fell 15% in 2009, impacted by the global economic downturn and a tough year in the highly competitive UK market.

According to figures released by California’s Wine Institute, shipments were down 14.9% to 417.9m litres, and dipped 9.5% by value to US$911.8m – after topping the US$1bn mark in a record-breaking 2008.

But Wine Institute president and CEO Bobby Koch pointed to a 16% rise in sales during the fourth quarter. ‘The California wine industry was not immune to the global recession, but fared better than most wine-producing countries,’ he said.

Exports to the European Union slumped 22% to US$380m, with many producers electing to ship wines in bulk and bottle locally to save money.

John McLaren, Wine Institute trade director for the UK, described 2009 as ‘a tough year in an already highly competitive UK wine market, with pressure on prices, reductions in stock holdings and cutbacks in the number of wine offerings occurring in all sectors’.

Elsewhere, the US became the largest bulk wine exporter to Japan, with bulk wine exports up 42% by volume and 34.4% by value.

Meanwhile, China and Hong Kong continued their resurgence, as the Chinese wine market quickly expanded into second-tier cities beyond Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

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Written by Richard Woodard

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