March (No. 494)
WGGA insists on change
Australia’s three largest wine regions - the Riverland, Riverina and Murray-Darling/Swan Hill - have united in a campaign to improve the selling environment for winegrape growers. Wine Grape Growers’ Australia (WGGA), the body formed by these three regional associations in 2004, maintains that current commercial arrangements under which growers are expected to function are in urgent need of urgent reform.
“The industry has become hostage to the shareholders of the major public wine companies ,” said chief executive officers Mike Stone (Murray Valley), Chris Byrne (Riverland) and Brian Simpson (Riverina).
“There is more interest in keeping shareholders happy than applying any vision to where the industry is headed. The need for growers to also produce profits is of no interest whatsoever.”
The group labeled the decline in growers’ incomes and new low grape prices a “crisis confronting the Australian wine industry”.
It had nine issues to put to Government, including proposing the introduction of a mandatory code of conduct between growers and wineries. The WGGA said the nine issues would form the major thrust of a campaign to achieve greater profitability, stability and sustainability for winegrape growers.
“The playingfield has become dangerously lop-sided and it’s time for Government to act to restore the balance,” the group said.