Hunter wine sales in decline

NEW research shows how much damage the high Australian dollar is doing to the country's wine exports while rival producers forge ahead.

Rabobank's 2011 Wine Quarterly report said global wine exports were growing unless the wine was from Australia or South Africa.

Italian exports are up almost 13 per cent in volume and nearly 13.5 per cent in value and the French are enjoying a 3.8 per cent volume growth and by nearly 15 per cent in value.

But Australian export volumes fell 10.9 per cent to 655.3 million litres in the 10 months to October 2011 because of the dollar's value and reduced supply, the report said.

Australian imports into the US fell by 14 per cent although, overall, America increased its wine imports.

Rabobank said a strong Australian dollar was the cause of the dip in the US market.

Chile, a strong competitor for Australian wine, suffered declines in export volume but not to the same degree as Australian producers.

The report said Chile had improved its product mix and its bottled shipments took business away from bulk exports.

Hunter Wine Industry Association president Andrew Margan said the Australian industry flooded the global market with cheap wine to reduce a glut.

"We made mistakes and now we are paying for them," Mr Margan said.

"Once you cater to that market you are ripe for the picking."

On a global scale, Australia was the world's eighth largest exporter.

France was the largest followed by Spain, Italy, the US, Argentina and Chile. New Zealand was ninth and the report showed its exports increased in volume by 9.5 per cent and in value by 4.5 per cent over the period from January to October 2011.

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