A new group has been formed to give commercial winemakers more input into how industry levies are spent.
- A new group has been formed to give commercial winemakers — of wine that sells for less than $10 a bottle— more input into how industry levies are spent
- Commercial Wine Producers will represent the three largest wine regions which produce two-thirds of our wine
- Members say with China’s absence the opportunity for market growth is in cheaper wine
The new representative body known as Australian Commercial Wine Producers (ACWP) will cover Australia’s three largest wine-producing regions – NSW’s Riverina, Victoria’s Sunraysia and South Australia’s Riverland.
Australia’s wine industry has been largely split into two sectors – the commercial producers who sell wine for less than $10 a bottle, with free on-board export values of less than $45 a case, and the premium sector that sells wine above this level.
ACWP chief executive Chris Byrne said commercial growers didn’t get enough of a voice in existing groups which were dominated by premium winemakers.
“Premium producers have had a greater influence on our industry’s policy settings, even though they contribute significantly less total industry levies and sales. We seek to redress that imbalance,” chief executive of ACWP Chris Byrne said.
“The inland producers simply believe that by having a closer working relationship and a more meaningful relationship with Wine Australia, in particular, then we can influence policy such that we can address some of what we see have been missed opportunities,” Mr Byrne said.
Between them, the three inland regions produce approximately 70 per cent of Australia’s total grape and wine production and Australian Commercial Wine Producers Limited (ACWP) has been created to give those winemakers more representation.
What does the new group want?
The new organisation wanted a number of things: to review the levy structure and the way the money was spent on behalf of the entire industry, influence future reforms to ensure taxation arrangements make up ground from the loss of the China market, assist with improving export and trade agreements and to increase the focus on water policy.
“The view of the inland is that inland product has been somewhat overlooked in the areas of research and development as well as extension, but also marketing,” Mr Byrne said.
A Wine Australia spokesperson said the organisation was committed to working with ACPW to ensure that sustainability, innovation and growth in the volume and value are promoted across the entire sector and at all price points.
More support for export markets
Mr Byrne said losing the China market wasn’t the catalyst behind the creation of the organisation but it was the driver behind the need to find replacement markets.
“Just as we can grow our efficiency in terms of our production, if we can apply more technology in our vineyards and that means influencing the way that our levies are spent.”
Australian Commercial Wine Producers Limited said efforts to move the wine industry to a more ‘premium’ space, where wine can be sold at higher prices, have not been as effective as hoped and that exports of premium wine had almost halved since 2009 if you exclude the growth of the Chinese market, which is now largely shut down to huge tariff increase.
Chair of ACWP Bill Moularadellis, of Kingston Estate Wines, said commercial wine would lead the momentum to move on from the loss of the Chinese wine market.
“More than ever, we are now dependent on our commercial export sales, and we need policy settings to protect this reliance,” he said.
“The sustainability of the commercial wine sector remains critical to Australia’s ability to be competitive across all international wine market sectors and to re-stake our position as the vineyard for the world.”