Global wine exports from Australia might be at their highest level in 10 years, but sales to the UK are in gentle decline, with the on-trade proving particularly difficult.
According to figures released today by Wine Australia, total wine exports are up 15% to AU$2.5bn, but much of that growth has been driven by increased demand from China. In the last 12 months, exports to the UK have seen a dip of AU$348m (£219m) in 2017.
The on-trade remains a particularly stubborn nut to crack, according to Laura Jewell MW, head of Wine Australia for the UK and Europe.
‘We are seeing success in parts of the on-trade in the UK – sommeliers and white tablecloth restaurants, for instance,' she said. 'But we’re finding it hard to get cut through in national chains. At the lower end, we are struggling.’
This seems to be borne out by results at the Sommelier Wine Awards. Last year, Australia had the highest share of Gold Medals in the competition at 18%, suggesting that sommeliers like the new style of wines. Yet the country is still losing listings in pubs and bar chains.
Jewell cited the rise of Picpoul, Prosecco and rosé as making life particularly difficult for Australia. All three are big sellers in the mass-market on-trade, but Australia cannot compete stylistically in any of these areas.
Salvation might come from the travails of their European counterparts. Australia had it’s biggest vintage for 10 years in 2017 – the only large producing country in the world to have a normal year – and is seeing a spike in demand from importers, who are unable to source cheaper wines from France, Spain or Italy.