Australian wine category is not broken, says market leader

Accolade boss Paul Schaafsma declared that “Australia is not broken” after announcing flagship brand Hardys grew 12.4% in volume over Christmas (Nielsen, 12 weeks to January 3).

Schaafsma said he has been embroiled in debates about whether Australia needs to reinvent itself to solve perceived problems, but he believes the sector is healthy.

Hardys sold 1.5 million more bottles during Christmas 2014 than during the same period last year.

Schaafsma said: “Australia is definitely not broken. We have had a fantastic six months in terms of trading results. People are asking what Australia is doing to reinvent itself, but it is already doing a lot of things very well.

“Hardys was up 12.4% over Christmas. That growth for the number one brand is quite significant.”

Australia has struggled in the on-trade, where sales have dwindled due to fierce competition from the likes of France, but in the take-home sector it is soaring.

It is by far the bestselling country of origin and value sales climbed 2% to £1.15 billion in the past year, while volumes grew 1.8% (Nielsen, year to January 3) in the face of an overall decline in volume sales of wine in the off-trade.

Accolade’s category development manager Jane Robertson said: “There has been quite a bit of chat about whether Australia is broken and what the problems are, with people saying ‘I’m struggling to sell Barossa Shiraz in my shop’.

“It’s a billion-pound category that is doing incredibly well and I can say with absolute certainty that at-home consumption is incredibly strong – 29 glasses of Australian wine are drunk per second at home.”

Kantar panel data to December 7, 2014, shows that shopper frequency is up 10% for Australian wine, while volume per trip is down slightly, by 0.1%. Penetration of the category is 39%, down from 40.2% a year ago. Shopper numbers have risen, but not in line with population growth.

Annual spend per shopper is also the highest of any country of origin, at £95.77, up from £86.03 last year.

Robertson said: “Australian shoppers are loyal. It has everyman appeal and doesn’t just appeal to one demographic.”

She added: “We have seen stronger growth in the independent and convenience sector. We are getting better ranges in independents. The convenience offering has improved. Ten years ago it was dominated by the US and South Africa but now you see more of Australia. That’s catching on more in smaller stores.” 

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