Lessons from Down Under: Q&A with Andreas Clark, CEO of Wine Australia

by | Jan 5, 2020 | Wineland, Opinion


Australian wines are experiencing a revival. Wine exports to America have returned to growth after more than a decade of decline. The country is also enjoying unprecedented success in Asia, especially in China where last year it overtook France as the No 1 imported wine category by value. We spoke to Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark

Q: What notable trends do you foresee for the global wine industry in 2020?

AC: The main trend we’re seeing is premiumisation, which is often accompanied by reductions in consumption. It’s a global trend that’s particularly obvious in developed economies. A global focus on health may also be impacting that trend.

Another trend that’s influencing consumption is sustainability. Consumers want to be assured that wine and other agricultural products are being produced in a sustainable manner. One of the greatest challenges is to make inroads into new markets, particularly by encouraging people who already drink alcohol to drink wine. This is where we see opportunities in both China and America.

Q: Australia has made some serious export inroads into difficult markets such as China and America. To what do you attribute your success?

AC: The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement has been very important to us and has reduced tariffs significantly [set to zero since January last year]. While Chile and New Zealand enjoy the same status, it gives us a significant advantage over European pro­ducts which still attract tariffs.

Equally important has been many Australian exporters’ commitment to build relationships by visiting countries such as America and China on a regular basis. After a period where Australia struggled in America, we’re seeing signs of improvement. But the complex distribution path to America means it’s still a challenging market. We face a chicken-and-egg situation where American retailers and distributors are reluctant to stock Australian wines because they claim there’s not enough consumer interest in our wines, and consumers don’t try Australian wines because there’s so few of them on the shelf.

We’re working hard to influence the influencers so Australian wine is better recognised. A recent survey by Wine Intelligence found that less than 50% of American wine consumers are aware that Australia produces wine, so there’s a significant promotion and education effort ahead. Starting in September last year, Wine Australia has co-ordinated the largest-ever promotion of Australian wine in America, with more than 100 Australian exhibitors showcasing 193 wine brands to thousands of trade and consumers across six American cities. The $8-million campaign, supported by the Australian government’s $50-million export and regional wine support package, is the single largest investment Australian wine has made in the market.

Q: Do you think climate change has  forced producers to think smarter about farming practices?

AC: Australian viticulture has been at the forefront of smarter water management and we continue to invest in R&D to optimise irrigation and develop rootstocks that exclude sodium ….

A full version of this article appears in the January/February 2020 issue of WineLand Magazine. Buy your copy here



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