Imports of NZ wine on the up

The UK has overtaken Australia as the biggest importer of New Zealand wine by volume, although it is lagging behind on value, with producers making less per litre than in any of their other export markets.

In 2010 the UK imported just under 48 million litres of New Zealand wine, up 33% from the year before, and worth NZ$298.7 million (£138.7 million) – up 11% from the previous year. Australia imported 45.9 million litres worth NZ$327.1 million.

The UK pays NZ$6.22 per litre of wine – considerably lower than the country’s other major export markets Australia, which pays NZ$7.12 per litre, and the US, which pays NZ$8.03.

David Cox, European director for New Zealand Winegrowers, said he expected average bottle prices to rise after they dropped from £6.45 in 2009 to £6.02 this year.

“We see 2009 and 2010 rather as blip years when it comes to pricing and positioning,” he told OLN. “I don’t want to see cheap New Zealand wine and I don’t think consumers want to either.

“It’s been there because of the increased availability and big vintages of 2008 and 2009, but I’m confident that is starting to disappear.

“We will go back up, and if that means we sell less that is OK – we have got a lot more growth in terms of new distribution. I don’t mind if we sell less at higher prices, we are not after volume gain.”?Cox has pledged to overtake Spain in terms of value sales by 2012. “We have overtaken Germany and we are going to creep up and overtake Spain,” he said.

He also noted that New Zealand is doing better at getting messages about its diversity across.

“We are seeing new listings and expansion of ranges beyond just Sauvignon Blanc. Syrah is suddenly on the map and Pinot Noir is getting better and better vintage to vintage. Pinot Noir now makes up 9% of our exports, compared with 5% last year.

“I’m quite bullish – exports are up both in volume and value. They have been in double digits for more than 24 months, and we are seeing expanded distribution in most of the main trade sectors. We are really showing some fantastic progress.”?