The end of the year is near, and few will be sad to see this one over. Some have done remarkably well but there are far too many who have been on the wrong end of the lock-downs and limited trading opportunities. The gap between the have’s and the have not’s is growing.
Summer brings feelings of optimism that, until last week’s Chinese government announcement of huge tariffs on Australian wines, gave hope for a brighter trading period ahead. Some have estimated that close to a billion dollars of wine will come back to the Australian market, sending many smaller producers to the wall.
Now is the hardest time to ‘pivot’ and find new markets. A zoom call to potential retailers in a market you’ve not yet opened in is a tough way to build trust and successfully open trading terms. So where will the excess volume end up? It’s more wine than the Australian market can accept, and even the best of social media campaigns to “support our Aussie mates” will struggle to make a serious dent on the ships of wine now looking for a home. It’s another serious challenge at a time when we are looking to get back on our feet.
Christmas is the busiest trading season for our industry, packed with occasions and reasons to celebrate, get together with family, and see off the year in style. With borders re-opening (thank you, Annastacia) and restrictions being eased, there’s hope the on-premise will benefit from some renewed, low-interest rate and incentive fuelled spending. Even with the looming March end to Job-Keeper, the band is playing, and the punters are raring to come out to play.
This time last year, we were heralding the Seltzer category’s arrival to Australian shores, and the announcement of Asahi to take over CUB. Both have happened, and both are set to shake up the industry. Seltzers, however, face some stiff competition in the form of flavour (or sometimes the lack thereof) making cut-through increasingly tricky. If the sample bar is anything to go by, you could be forgiven for thinking the seltzer category rivals mainstream beer, with a new brand being released daily. Australian’s are very brand conscious so expect White Claw and Smirnoff to dominate, leaving a small share for the dozens of newly launched seltzers to win.
Our viewpoints in this edition come from three of our industry’s most respected leaders: Chris Baddock from ALM, Paul Midolo from Samuel Smiths & Sons and Negociants, and James Brindley from Lion. All three bring immense experience to their respective businesses, and whose forward-thinking and leadership will be essential over the coming years to keep the ship upright and moving in the right direction.
Our tasting panel has tackled Rosé and the Sparkling and Champagne categories – which saw strong submissions this year, forcing us to postpone the Prosecco component until the next Autumn edition.
We also look at Gin and Iconic Australian brands.
Finally, this year has been a challenge on so many fronts, in particular the events industry. One of the most respected awards is the Australian Wine List of the Year Awards, run by Rob Hirst and proudly supported by the Drinks Association, among others. We’ve dedicated six pages to the awards, announcing all the winners and talking to previous “Hall of Famers”, read all the results on page 32. Congratulations to all the winners, and to Rob and his team for an excellent awards in difficult circumstances.
The team here at Drinks Trade magazine wishes you all the best trading over the Christmas period, but most of all, we toast to you and your families good health. Let’s do that with a glass of Australian wine in hand. It’s the least we can do!
See you next year!