Riverland wine industry outlines challenges to Federal Government

Rows of vines in the Riverland

Riverland wine sellers and grapegrowers met with the Federal Minister for Trade and Tourism, Don Farrell, on Wednesday to discuss the future of the local industry, calling for action to ensure it can overcome current challenges and set itself up for the future.

Hosted by industry group Riverland Wine, industry representatives discussed a range of issues with Minister Farrell including:

  • Proposed structuring of trade support for the wine sector and how it affects the region around costs and support associated with re-entering China and expanding into South East Asia;
  • Understanding how the Federal Government is proposing to fund international expansion activities on behalf of the industry;
  • The critical need for Export Market Development Grants;
  • China’s removal of tariffs and maximising benefits to export sales;
  • The relevance of free trade agreements in the medium and long term; and
  • Consideration to structural adjustment and an industry reform fund by the Federal Government.

Riverland Wine executive officer Lyndall Rowe said the proposal for structural adjustment and the establishment of and industry reform fund by the Federal Government warranted serious consideration.

“I thank Minister Farrell for taking the time to sit down with wine sellers and grape growers at our request to better understand the challenges and opportunities currently facing the Riverland wine industry,” said Rowe.

“There was consensus in the meetings on the importance of investment, marketing and strategic planning to address challenges and capitalise on opportunities.

“The Minister emphasised the need for stabilising relationships with China, particularly regarding trade. Despite recent challenges, there was optimism about re-entering the Chinese market. He also confirmed that the Federal Government aims to support regions like the Riverland by exploring alternative and emerging markets such as India.

“With China removing wine tariffs, it’s imperative we strategise how best the Federal Government can extend support to strengthen the Riverland wine industry’s resilience and growth.

“The Riverland is perfectly positioned to take advantage of global trends among emerging and current wine consumers – from varietal mixes, lighter styles of red and low/no alcohol through to unconventional varietals and blends and environmentally friendly packaging.

“We have the industrial capacity to service rapidly growing markets through our ability to scale up production while remaining competitively priced across a range of categories.

“The critical need for initiatives like the Export Market Development Grant cannot be overstated. Our sales model is intricately tied to the physical presence of our teams on the ground, which emphasises the need for continued support.”

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