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Premium wine export focus

CONCERNS that WA’s wine industry may be damaged by a glut of poor quality, mass-produced wines may be misplaced if current trends, outlined in newly released wine statistics, continue.

A study released by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, in conjunction with the Grape & Wine Research & Development Corporation, indicates that the average price of WA wine for export increased substantially during the past two years.

While the volume of WA wine exports increased 25 per cent in the two years to 2000-01, export revenue increased 36 per cent to more than $31 million.

All other States besides South Australia suffered from declining average prices for wine exports. In Victoria, the volume of export sales increased 25 per cent during the period while revenue increased 10 per cent. New South Wales’ volume of exports rose 34 per cent, while income rose 31 per cent.

The increase in WA’s premium market is reflected in figures that show the premium market as a percentage of total exports has increased substantially. The study found that the sale of cheap wine as a percentage of total exports has dropped substantially during the past five years.

In 1995-96 more than 80 per cent of Australia’s bottled wine was in the under $5 category. Today, cheap wines account for just 65 per cent of total exports.

Meanwhile, bottles for export in the $10-plus range have increased from 2 per cent to 4 per cent of the market, while bottles valued at between $7.50 and $9.99 increased market share from 2 per cent to 6 per cent.

Wine Industry Association of WA chief executive officer Tamara Stevens said that, while WA was producing about a quarter of Australian premium wines, other States were following the lead.

“There has been a growing focus on premium wines across Australia which has been driven by consumer tastes and trends,” Ms Stevens said. “The more interested and educated you become about wine,

the more likely you are to try premium wines.”

She said the export market was imperative for the future of the industry because “the domestic market has to a certain extent reached saturation”.

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