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WFA finalising plans to rejuvenate Australia wine industry

A three-year, A$33.75m action plan aimed at rejuvenating the Australian wine industry has been finalised by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA).

The 43-point strategy document, first unveiled in August but now amended after consultation, claims to be the first comprehensive blueprint aimed at restoring the industry’s profitability.

The plan addresses six main areas: wine and health; increasing demand; correcting supply; open and fair competition; reforming the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) rebate; and managing future wine tax arrangements.

Headline measures include increasing the budget of generic body Wine Australia by A$2m a year, spending A$1m a year on a ‘much stronger presence’ at trade shows, and investing a total of A$7.5m in a recently announced joint marketing effort with Tourism Australia.

But A$4.5m plans for an Australian Food and Wine Centre in Shanghai have been scrapped, and the WFA has reiterated its oppostion to a vine buy-back scheme aimed at cutting production levels.

Instead it would prefer to spend A$6m over the next three years on establishing a national vineyard database and on other research projects.

‘We believe we have a solid and robust industry blueprint which has very wide support,’ said WFA president Tony D’Aloisio.

‘We now look forward to maintaining the momentum and to continuing to work with our members, governments and other stakeholders to implement these actions.’

The plan is a response to falling exports and profits in the Australian wine industry, and calculates that up to 70% of current wine grape production in Australia is uneconomic.

Levies paid to Wine Australia have fallen from A$17m to A$11m a year over the last six years, it adds.

‘Together, these developments have seen the Australian wine category trade down, with many brands reduced to competing on price and convenience alone,’ the report says.

Written by Richard Woodard

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