NEW ZEALAND (Wellington) - New Zealand´s wine industry achieved an explosive growth in exports of 24 per cent in the period of June 2008 to June 2009. Furthermore, domestic sales volumes have risen by 29 percent to 60 million liters. The annual report continues to state that exports have risen tenfold in the last 10 years. Moreover, turnover sales surged by 194 million New Zealand dollars (92 million euros) to a record 992 million New Zealand dollars (approximately 471 euros) in this decade
Despite these proud numbers, Stuart Smith, winemaker and chairman of the winegrowers association New Zealand (New Zealand´s Grape Growers Council), sees "unmistakable warning signs" for the wine sector. "The enormous increase of deliveries throughout the past year strained competition and lowered prices,"says Smith and continues to explain. "The situation is worsened through the global economic crisis. Many of our winemakers are facing tough years. For now, lower profits are going to be the new reality for our wine industry."
Smith sees a clear connection between the steadily increasing production, the overflowing of the market and the decline in prices. "That is not a good development," Stuart Smith states, criticizing the current situation. "Our export of bulk wines only accounted for only 5 percent of exports in 2008. Now, within one year, we have quadrupled the percentage, which is now 20 percent. Mass deliveries are jeopardizing New Zeeland´s reputation as a wine nation that stands for quality. We are especially damaging our premium wines."
Smith warns his colleagues and wine cellars to reduce the harvest yield and to concentrate on premium wines. "We have to discipline ourselves," Smith states. "In 2009, we harvested 285.000 tons. That are 0.5 tons less per hectares than in 2008, but it still are 9.2 tones per hectares. That is one step into the right direction, but by no means enough."
The grape variety Sauvignon Blanc accounts for 62.3 percent of New Zealand´s wine production, followed by Chardonnay (12 percent) and Pinot Noir (9.6 percent). Varieties such as Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscatel share the remaining 16.1 percent. Australians, who import approximately one third, are the largest buyers of New Zealand´s wines, followed by Great Britain and the US. (aw.yoopress / translator e.meissner)