Prospects are good for the year ahead for New Zealands wine industry, the trade body says

Prospects are good for the year ahead for New Zealand's wine industry, the trade body says

Producing premium wines is the “only viable future” for the New Zealand wine industry, a senior trade figure has warned. 

In the New Zealand Winegrowers annual report, released last week, chair Steven Green says it is “vital” that wineries and growers in the country “learn from the struggles of the recent past”. “Optimism should never be unbridled, but rather should be market-led and fact-based,” he writes. 

“In the midst of all future change, the one constant must be a rock-solid understanding that premium production is the only viable future for New Zealand wine.”

The report reveals that exports of New Zealand wines in the 12 months to the end of June rose by 3% to a record annual high of NZD1.21bn (US$942.8m). However, exports in volume terms fell 5%. 

A shift towards packaged products, higher bulk wine prices and a move to higher value markets led to the record sales, the report said. However, a strong New Zealand dollar "blunted" returns back to wine companies.

Shipments to the US rose by 13% to NZD284m, making it the second largest export market behind Australia. Sales by value to Australia and the UK fell by 2%, while volume drops were “significantly greater” in both markets, the report said. 

Exports to mainland China were up 6% in value to NZD26.9m, while sales to Hong Kong climbed by 11% to NZD20.5m.

New Zealand's domestic wine volumes fell by 19% to 52m litres.

But Green added: “The recovery is well under way from the 2008 supply imbalance and we have a vintage of marvellous quality to sell. The sales prospects for the year ahead look very positive.”