Wine prices in key Australian importing countries will remain around current levels or actually decline in the next five years through fiscal 2008-09, according to the government's official agricultural economists.

In particular, prices for red wine were expected to come under the greatest pressure. A ten-page analysis of the wine industry's outlook was presented to a conference of the Australian Agriculture and Research Bureau (ABARE) by senior economist Vernon Topp.

Topp forecast a slowing down of wine exports from the 18% annual figure of the previous decade to around 12% a year.

"By 2008-09 round 65% of Australian wine is projected to be exported compared with 49% in 2002-03. Export unit values in real terms are assumed to continue a steady decline," he said. 

Noting Australian wine exports concentration on the UK and US markets, the ABARE report said South Africa and the US had outperformed Australia by volume and value growth in the UK in recent years.

"This reinforces the concern over Australia's export market concentration…which accounted for over two thirds of Australian wine exports in 02-03."