China's appreciation for Australian wine reaches new heights

Atlas Wine Group - Friday, January 27, 2012

CHINA'S taste for top Australian wines is climbing as living standards rise and demand lifts, according to the latest wine sales data.

Last year, the rapidly growing market become the third largest destination for Australian wine with sales shooting up to $201.5 million in 2011, behind only the major markets of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Wine sales to China and Hong Kong helped prevent a larger decline in Australian wine exports which fell to $1.89 billion last year as exports to the US and UK went into reverse.

Leading Australian wine makers have moved quickly, increasing their marketing spend and opening cellar doors to tap into the increased spending power that has come from a growing middle class.

Late last year, Treasury Wine Estates chose Shanghai as the city in which to launch its Penfolds Bin 620 red wine, at $1000 a bottle.

In contrast, bulk wine shipments to China fell as cheaper bulk wine from countries such as Spain took preference.

The latest data from Wine Australia shows the biggest jump in wine exports to China was in top priced bottles. Red wine was the drink of choice with exports rising 42 per cent, while whites fell 4 per cent.

Overall China has overtaken Japan as the major market for Australian agricultural produce for the first time. Rural exports to China reached $4.4 billion in 2010-11 compared to shipments worth $4.2 billion to Japan.

The rising demand from China came as total Australian beef exports reached near record levels last year with 949,195 tonnes shipped overseas.

The surge in meat sales to China included beef worth $52 million.

Source: Nigel Austin - Herald Sun 
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