The closure of an Australian glass furnace has sent a warning throughout the country's wine industry of a consumer slowdown, according to Australian financial reports.

ACI Glass, the monopoly bottle supplier, is closing one of the glass furnaces at its giant Adelaide plant, because forward orders from customers are lower than forecast. This follows the shut-down of two production lines late last year, the respected Australian Financial Review reported today.
 
The report said the move had Australia's big wine companies "bracing for a sharper-than-expected contraction in growth this year".

Sales of wine in the domestic market have been particularly tough but the US is showing signs of a slowdown too.

The Financial Review reported that demand for wine bottles from ACI's customers in Australia in calendar 2001 had only been up 6% on the previous year, because of heavy inventory reductions of finished bottled wine in supply chains in most overseas markets, and the economic slowdown after the September 11 US terrorist attacks.
 
This compares with an approximate growth rate of 15% in the previous year.

Although Australia's "big four", Southcorp, Beringer Blass, BRL Hardy and Orlando Wyndham are ACI's major customers it is thought that the largest fall out is from the smaller producers.