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27/10/2014

Wine Victoria calls for state government tourism and trade support

Wine Victoria has made its industry priorities known in the lead up to the state government election, including important trade and tourism recommendations.

Damien Sheehan, Wine Victoria chair, said the peak body represents more than 800 grapegrowers and winemakers and is calling for a stronger partnership with state government, including funding for inbound trade activities and regional wine events.

“Partnering with state government would help Victorian winemakers return our industry to a profitable level, whilst ensuring a flow-on of state-wide benefits, including employment in regional Victoria,” Sheehan said.

The wine industry is one of the last regionally-based manufacturing industries that value-adds, directly employing more than 2600 regional Victorians in grapegrowing and winemaking, and indirectly employing more than 11,500 through administration, tourism and hospitality functions.

“Despite the wine industry’s benefits to the state, things have been tough for domestic wine sales because of the retail crunch that has driven down profit margins for our suppliers,”  he added.

“We are calling for state government to get behind us by funding marketing campaigns and wine focused events that would benefit Victoria’s 21 wine regions.

"A thriving regional tourism scene will help drive direct sales via visits to the cellar door.

“We also need support for exports to key and emerging markets, given that Victorian suppliers have struggled to make a profit from exports since 2007, despite wine being one of Victoria’s most valuable food exports.”

The high Australian Dollar and a state of oversupply have been particular barriers, but Victoria’s advantage lies in its offering of premium wine, which is growing in popularity, according to Sheehan.

“The world is developing a taste for Victorian wine and we need to continue to build this demand,” he said.

“We have welcomed government support through inbound trade missions and export delegations to Asia, and have made recommendations on the need to focus on the US, UK and Canada which are also strong markets.”

Wine exports are worth $197 million a year to Victoria, and 60 per cent is exported internationally to 80 countries with China, the UK, the US and Hong Kong the top four markets.

Sheehan said if the incoming state government adopts Wine Victoria’s recommendations, prosperity will be delivered to regional Victoria and beyond, making significant steps towards ending the industry’s profitability issues.

“A healthy partnership between industry and government can bring back the vitality of Victoria’s wine industry while delivering real economic benefits back to the state," he said.

“As we move closer to the election, Wine Victoria is focused on ensuring our future political leaders are well briefed on the issues of trade and export and regional tourism."


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