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13/11/2008

Queensland encourages States to ratify wine labelling treaty

Queensland has joined South Australia in urging other States and Territories to amend their respective wine labelling laws to enable exporters to use a single label for both local and international markets. Following the lead of the South Australian Government in January, the Queensland Government has made its laws consistent with the World Wine Trade Group (WWTG) labelling agreement which Australia signed in January last year. Fellow signatories include the US, Canada, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and South Africa. The treaty standardises the presentation of certain information on wine labels, such as product designation, content volume, percentage of alcohol and country of origin, meaning when a product is sold in several markets, winemakers and exporters will no longer have to attach different front labels for each destination. Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine has told State Parliament that labelling costs represent a major hurdle for many local wine producers who are currently required to print different labels for export and domestic wine markets. "This duplication is a waste of money that could be invested in developing the international competitiveness of Australian wines," Mr Shine said. "It is estimated that this move will save the Australian wine industry $25 million a year in labelling costs." He said Australia could not ratify the WWTG's agreement until all States and Territories made their laws consistent with the new requirements. "It is imperative we speed up this process so that savings can flow on to wine producers. The proposed new regulation will allow producers to state anywhere on the bottle how much wine it contains, except on the top or base, as long as it can be viewed together with the country of origin, alcohol content and product description. This represents a small change in the labelling laws but it could make a significant difference to the bottom line of the wine industry." Mr Shine said progress on the new labelling regulations would be reported to next week's meeting of the Council of Australian Governments in Canberra. "Australian wine producers hold an 8% volume share of the export market and export to over 104 countries. Maintaining strong focus on developing exports will be vital to the continued viability of the industry. "Using a flexible internationally recognised labelling standard will not only save the industry money but will lead to regional growth and help smaller wineries break into the export market," Mr Shine said.

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