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Grape prices play catch-up

RECOVERY could be on the distant horizon for the Australian wine industry. The dollar has once again been competitive, free trade agreements have brought down the price of Australian wine in Asian markets and the value of wine exports has topped $2 billion for the first time in almost 10 years.

However, grape prices show only minor increases.

Average market prices suggest that Chardonnay could be on the road to recovery, but has a way to go before it’s again regarded as profitable. The major reds, which averaged just under $300/tonne last year, could come in above that this year but, as with Chardonnay, they were a way off being profitable. Pinot Gris has once again been the best performer while Gordo was expected be the worst.

Senator Anne Ruston said while exports are exceeding, there has yet to be an accurate reflection on grape prices.

“Hopefully we soon see these great figures for wine exporters reflected at the farm gate with high grape prices.”

WGGA Executive Director Andrew Weeks said it was imperative that industry and government worked together to capitalise on the sector’s potential.

“Grapegrowers have been doing it tough for long enough, with the national average prices of 2001 of around $933/tonne a distant memory,” Weeks said. “The prices in 2014 were down to $441/tonne, rising slightly last year to an average $463/tonne – a step in the right direction but indicative of just how much more work needs to be done to give family businesses a fighting chance.”

Weeks said the inland regions in particular were still to see any real improvement in value.

“Wine Australia reported that wine exports went up 14 per cent in 2015 which is a good early sign of opportunity but it’s just that,” he said. “What we need to see is better returns to the vineyard and cellar door and to help that process we need structural reform.”



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