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January (No. 492)

492

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AWBC reports solid result in ‘challenging’ year

Chairman of the Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation, David Brownhill, described the 2003-04 financial year as one of “challenge and change” at the Corporation’s annual general meeting in December.

“Australian wine exports broke the A$2.55 billion barrier for the first time with a record 581 million litres shipped overseas. But this was balanced by a disturbing trend. For the third successive year the growth in export volume exceeded growth in export value, resulting in a decreasing average price per litre,” Brownhill said.

“The outlook is that Australian wine production will continue to grow, somewhat steadier, but nevertheless, upwards.

“We must continue to grow our exports by similar amounts in the next few years as the past two, to keep wine stock ratios at manageable levels.

“Our major focus must be to lift wine exports at higher price points to maintain profitability. Too much Australian wine is being offered on promotion, or discount, and we must re-assert the Australian promise that we deliver quality at all price points, not just at the cheap and cheerful level,” Brownhill said.

AWBC chief executive, Sam Tolley, said highlights of the year included the continual progress of the wine agreement between Australia and the European Community, and the signing of the free trade agreement with the USA; continual work in the area of quality and integrity in areas of wine export procedures and wine law compliance, and knowledge development through the launch of products such as Winefacts, and through the Corporation's information centre.

“The AWBC wine industry information centre responded to more than 4000 enquiries in 2003-04, however, the volume of enquiries is reducing as more information becomes available on the Corporation’s websites, including Winefacts,” Tolley said.

“Since Winefacts was launched in October 2003, 760 visitors have registered for Winefacts statistics, and 7 million cells of data have been downloaded.

“The development of Winefacts information search facility will enable clients to search for information independently, allowing staff to focus on developing new products and services,” he said.

Tolley said the Corporation’s Geographical Indications Committee had determined the majority of Australia’s wine regions and sub regions, and was working on issues arising from submissions received from proposed regions King Valley, Pemberton, Manjimup, Robe, Penola and Wrattonbully.

Tolley closed by saying the Corporation had achieved a surplus of $692,459 for the financial year, significantly above budget. He said the surplus strengthened the financial reserves that had been depleted in past years, to a level with which the board was now comfortable.



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