China can halt Aussie wine export slump
A slump in Australian wine export can be reversed with a red wine push into China, an expert says.
Australian winemakers can expect to sell greater volumes of red wine into China but not so many whites because "white is the colour of death in China", a leading wine industry exhibitor says.
Vinexpo CEO Guillaume Deglise said a growing demand for wine from the Chinese should help reverse a slump in Australian wine export volumes in recent years.
Speaking in London on Tuesday, Deglise released figures from a study showing that Australia remained the world's fourth largest wine exporter behind Italy, France and Spain.
But Australian wine export volumes were down nine per cent over the 2010-14 period, hit by competition from other wine producing countries selling into Australia's top two markets in the US and the UK.
Deglise said "a fairly strong Australian dollar" had made lower-priced Australian wines less competitive with wines from such countries as Chile and Spain.
"But Australia will probably recover thanks to China over the next few years," he said.
China is Australia's fourth largest market for wine and a growing middle class there wanted more varieties to choose from and at better prices than the Bordeaux-style wines that have dominated the Chinese market, Deglise said.
He said China, including Hong Kong, was expected to increase wine imports by more than 16 per cent from 2015-19.
"Bordeaux is still a big brand in mainland China but the China market is changing very fast."
Wine Australia figures show the value of Australian wine exports to China grew by 66 per cent to $A370 million in 2015.
Deglise noted that the high-end Australian brand Penfolds was well known as a quality wine in China but there was great sales potential for lower-priced Australian wines.
He said the next Vinexpo in Hong Kong in May would promote Shiraz as a new trend in Asian markets, and that could benefit Shiraz producers in Australia.
Deglise said red wine accounted for about 90 per cent of wine sales in China compared to only around 10 per cent for whites.
"Red is so strong, the colour is such a big symbol in China, it is the colour of health, it is the colour of luck. White is the colour of death so it is very difficult to promote white wine."
Deglise noted there had been nearly a 12 per cent drop in Australian wine exports to the UK between 2010 and 2014 but he said Australian premium brands seemed to be recovering.
"The top Australian wines like the ones coming from the Barossa and the Hunter Valley are performing very well in the UK and I think Australian wine now is being driven by these regions so it could come back."
Origin information: The Australian