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Aussie wine export growth continues as Chinese market soars

www.abc.net.au by Jemima Burt and Tom Nancarrow20/10/2017  

China has again shown its dominance as Australia's most valuable wine market, with new figures showing export value into China increased by 42 per cent in the past 12 months.

Wine Australia's export report shows total exports to Greater China hit $853 million in value, which is significantly higher than the next-best United States on $461 million.

Total Australian wine exports also showed substantial growth across the board from the 12 months ending September 2017, with value growing 13 per cent to hit $2.44 billion and just under 800 million litres in volume.

Wine Australia chief executive Andreas Clark said the rise of the Chinese market in particular had been significant for the local industry.

"The story in China has been quite remarkable," he said.

"There is a real emerging wine culture … there is still a long way to go in China.

"It is all part of the trend to westernisation that is happening there, and exploring new ways of living."

Shiraz popular with consumers

Red wine varieties were once again a big winner, accounting for 74 per cent of export value and outperforming white wine domestically.

Mr Clark said Australian red varieties, including the popular shiraz, had struck a chord with Chinese consumers.

"Red wine resonates strongly in the China market, and it is over 90 per cent of our exports," he said.

"The success we have had is because we have really worked hard in the market.

"We had seven years of negative value growth, so in the last three years we have been in positive growth territory."

Winemakers excited for growth

Yalumba managing director Nick Waterman, in South Australia's Barossa Valley, said the sustainable growth of exports had proven surprising.

"I think there was a lot of expectation in general by the wine industry, but I think most people would not have predicted such exponential growth," he said.

"It is moving from what has traditionally been seen as a healthy option, and now it is becoming more of a lifestyle option as well.

"As the country's population becomes wealthier, we are seeing it move away from the five-star hotels and tier one cities, and into the general restaurant trade."

Despite trailing more traditional markets like the United States and the United Kingdom, Mr Waterman said the growth in China looked likely to take out top spot for his winemaker in the coming years.

"I envisage within the foreseeable future it will become the largest market for us by value," he said.