Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) has advised growers, who are suffering from low wine grape prices coming in below production costs, to begin pricing disputes with wineries to force a review of the matter.

WGGA said in an announcement yesterday (4 February) that should wineries continue to talk down grape prices, it has estimated a national crop up to 500,000 tonnes below required annual production demands.

WGGA executive director Mark McKenzie said: "These wineries continue to rebuild their profits while growers' incomes remain negative. The market is not reflecting these shortages of fruit, because a number of major wineries amended their prices downwards before Christmas on their own grossly overstated revised national crop estimates. With vintage underway and crops lighter than predicted, wineries are now revising their production estimates downwards in line with the real outlook, but grape prices are not reflecting this."

WGGA has advised growers to trigger price disputes with wineries in an effort to force a review, or employ a solicitor or financial advisor to argue the case, use the grape pricing of other regional processors fruit to argue for improved prices as well as seeking legal advice on joining with other growers in joint negotiations and 'class actions'. The WGGA added that, where possible, growers should also try not to supply grapes to wineries offering low prices.