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Big brands blaze trail to Netherlands

Anita Donaldson

There is a flurry of current interest in emerging wine markets: China, Russia and India spring to mind. The focus on emerging markets has come to the fore as Australia has been forced to look outside the more mature markets of the UK and USA to continue to grow its sales base and meet the targets set in the new Directions to 2025 strategy.

While European markets are generally, just ticking along, The Netherlands has been growing at a much faster rate. Sales there are up 52% in volume compared with this time last year, according to the March Wine Export Approval Report from the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation.

Red wines have 65% share of Australia’s exports into The Netherlands with white wines comprising 35%. The AWBC statistics do not separate Rose from red wines, and this is a category continuing to grow in The Netherlands, and across Europe.

Wine Australia has been particularly active in the Dutch market, supporting small and large retailers to improve availability of Australian wines.

Wine Australia regional manager, Continental Europe, Marco Tiggelman said a key to the growth of Australian wine in The Netherlands has been a fortunate (but then well-maintained) relationship with a key wine buyer for the dominant Netherlands retail group, Ahold.

“Ahold is, I believe, the fourth-largest retail group in the world, with several retail formats Albert Heijn supermarket and Gall & Gall wine shops which represent over 60% of all wine purchases in The Netherlands and obviously influence consumer interest,” Tiggelman said.

“We have been lucky that in the past four years, the Ahold buyer has been on our side and has enjoyed a trip out to Australia every year, with the obvious result.

“Wine Australia has ‘facilitated’ his trips and our campaigns are developed with Ahold’s marketing team and have involved web campaigns, educating store managers, consumer promotions, in store tastings and advertising.”

Tiggelman said Wine Australia has engaged in a number of category promotions for Australian wine, along with several major players in the market including Foster’s.

“Hardy’s (Constellation Wine Australia) has played a significant role here too, probably followed by Jacob’s Creek and Yellow Tail, though Yellow Tail enjoys distributions outside of the Ahold group,” Tiggelman said.

Dutch national Arian van de Haar is Foster’s business manager Benelux, responsible for sales and marketing of Foster’s wine brands in The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. van de Haar agreed the Dutch market was showing strong growth for Australia.

He cited GFK 2007 data stating The Netherlands wine category grew 1% in 2007, while Australia’s growth was 32%. “This resulted in a 5.2% share for Australia in the market with Foster’s holding a leading position within that share,” he said.

Foster’s key brands, Lindemans: Bin 40 Merlot, Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bin 65 Chardonnay; Penfolds: Rawson’s Retreat Cabernet Sauvignon, Rawson’s Retreat Merlot, Rawson’s Retreat Chardonnay and Rosemount Estate: Diamond Cellars Shiraz Cabernet and Diamond Cellars Semillon Chardonnay are leading the way.

“Despite the fact that ‘price’ is a key factor in the Dutch market Australian wines are among the ones with the highest average price. Consumers apparently appreciate the constant over delivery when they purchase any of our wines. They also trust our wines to be good from any given vintage. This makes our wines more accessible than some of our Old World competitors as there is less consumer knowledge required to pick the right bottle from the shelf. Our wines also drink very well without food which is a key factor to Dutch consumers who drink most of their wines well after dinner,” he said.

“Foster’s has both a direct and an indirect distribution approach to the market. We work directly and closely with the major retail players and have a strong on-trade partner as well. Our brands are equally distributed in both channels and offer a point of recognition to consumers who often feel lost when they have a look at a wine list in restaurants. Instead of defaulting to the house wine they now often defer to our brands.”

Dr Joerg Hacker is European Sales Manager for Casella Wines, responsible for [yellow tail] development in all European markets excluding the UK and Ireland. This single brand has reportedly comprised as much as 40% of all Australian wine imports into the USA market and the brand’s success has continued into Europe where it is the number one Australian wine brand in the German retail sector. Hacker says [yellow tail] has experienced enormous popularity and continuously growing sales figures since entering the Dutch market in 2005. Unlike the majority of wine sales which are through the Ahold group, [yellow tail] is distributed by Vinites B.V., and Hacker attributes this partnership with setting the ground for the brand’s success.

“To date, some 550,000 bottles of [yellow tail] have been sold to Dutch consumers,” he said. And he agrees The Netherlands market is growing for Australia, along with a general increasing interest in New World wines.

Hacker attributes the brand’s world-wide success to its unconventional approach — a wine for uncomplicated enjoyment — along with the eye-catching label and creative marketing to reach consumers who may not previously have thought about wine, hence “drawing new consumers to the wine market”. He also rates the quality of the wine highly, highlighting the [yellow tail] Chardonnay silver medal at the recent Chardonnay du Monde wine challenge.

“Excellent wine quality, unique and innovative marketing and a reasonable price positioning should further increase [yellow tail]’s sales figures in every country, and will also convince Dutch consumers,” he said.



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