Jan 12

Australian – Wine exports suffer 18% fall

Tag: Ländersigi.hiss @ 08:27

Scott Rochfort – Wine exports suffer 18% fall
THE Australian wine industry has suffered its largest-ever annual slump in exports, with the value of wine shipped overseas falling 18 per cent to $2.47 billion last year. With the local wine industry already enduring a glut and then a savage drought in recent years, figures from the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC) show the export boom wine makers have enjoyed since the mid-1990s is over.In its December export approval report, the AWBC showed the value of wine exports to Australia’s two key markets, Britain and the US, fell 18.2 per cent and 26.5 per cent respectively on the previous year. The AWBC described 2008 as a year of two halves. The first half being dominated by a high Australian dollar and the second being impacted by the global economic crisis. Export volumes for the year suffered their first decline since 1995, falling 11 per cent to 698 million litres. It is the first time the value of annual wine exports has fallen since the AWBC started its monthly updates in 1994.

Meanwhile, the world’s biggest winemaker, Constellations Brands, provided another gloomy update on the state of the global wine market, warning it was „recalibrating [its] sales expectations“ due to the economic slowdown. Constellation, which is became Australia’s largest winemaker following its 2003 takeover of BRL Hardy, trimmed its full-year earnings forecasts after a 7 per cent fall in third quarter sales.

„Excluding the impact of foreign currency, our consolidated net sales in the quarter were a bit below our expectations, primarily as a result of the adverse economic conditions we are facing around the world,“ Constellation’s chief executive, Robert Sands, said. Its brands include Banrock Station and Berri Estates. Offering little comfort to shareholders in rival Foster’s Group, Constellation reported an 11 per cent fall in third quarter sales to Australia’s largest wine export market, Britain.

„Our European sales are less than our expectations, driven by extreme market conditions, including the worsening economic climate in the UK and mainland Europe,“ said Mr Sands. The deterioration in the wine market could create problems for Foster’s if it decides to split its wine and beer operations. It is expected to announce the outcome of a review of its wine operations on February 17.

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