Export wine growth is slowing

New Zealand export wine growth has slowed and will soon begin to dip on lower available supply from the 2012 harvest, the latest Rabobank wine quarterly says.

The impact had not been uniform across markets with shipments to the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia beginning to slip in order to feed more profitable shipments to markets such as the United States, Canada and China.

Early indications were for higher supply this year from southern hemisphere producers and the growing season was shaping up to deliver a larger 2013 harvest in New Zealand.

Despite the anticipated recovery in production, the low level of ending stocks was likely to support grape pricing in the key Marlborough region, the report said.

In Australia, the extended heat wave that had affected much of the country from late December into January had the potential to moderate production from the 2013 harvest.

Wine grape markets have been subdued but were likely to respond if the extreme conditions continued.

It appeared Chile would have a good season while Argentina's 2013 crop would likely rebound from last year's light crop.

Consumption was beginning to increase in some key markets as consumers discovered new and more affordable wines.

That significant shift to lower value wines in major import markets, such as the UK and US, had begun to create some welcome pricing tension for suppliers.

The prolonged economic downturn in the European and US markets had ''played havoc'' with demand for sparkling wines, channelling consumers downmarket and further into the hands of the off-premise retail chains.

A range of high quality yet somewhat previously overshadowed products and producers had found new opportunities in the European and US markets with wines such as prosecco and cava finding ''new life'', the report said.

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