Comment - Australian wine facing stark reality
Not even a positive trading update from Australian Vintage, one of Australia's top wine firms, can overshadow a fresh set of horrible figures on the Australian wine industry.
One glance at the figures released by Australia's statistics boffins this week and you would not need to speak with anyone in the country's wine industry to know that things are bad.
Australian wine sales at home and abroad fell 5% and 7.6% in value terms in the 12 months to the end of June 2009.
At the same time, imports of foreign wine to Australia rose 10% in value and 17% in volume.
Australian wine sales actually rose 5% and 0.6% in volume abroad and at home respectively. Not so bad given that the world economy, and particularly key export markets of UK and US, were souring faster than a glass of Shiraz in an oxygen tank during the year.
But, the killer is the surplus lurking in the corners of Australia's vast wine cellar.
ABS figures show that producers were holding stocks of 1.88bn litres at the end of June last year. Another 1.18bn litres were produced during the 12 months.
Domestic and export sales of Australian wine combined for the year also totalled 1.18bn litres, leaving the surplus wholly untouched.
No wonder industry leaders expect more wineries to go out of business.
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