What challenges did Aus wine trade describe in recent Federal Government meeting?

April 29, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Last Wednesday 24 April, representatives of Riverland’s wine industry met with Don Farrell, Federal Minister for Trade and Tourism, to outline the ongoing challenges being faced by both sellers and growers and to further discussions towards potential Federal Government-led solutions.

The discussions, hosted by Riverland Wine, were divided into a large volume wine producers meeting and a small volume sellers/ highly trade-exposed growers meeting. 

“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 Lyndall Rowe, Executive Officer at Riverland Wine. 

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

The meetings also explored the need for urgent additional export support assisting with re-entering China and expanding into South East Asia.

“[Farrell] confirmed that the Federal Government aims to support regions like the Riverland by exploring alternative and emerging markets such as India,” said Rowe.

“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.”

Riverland representatives highlighted the need for specific grants to give a currently teetering industry a much needed boost. This follows on from various State Government grant programs that have been established in the wake of the lifting of China tariffs, including South Australia’s $1.85 million China Re-Engagement Support Package. 

“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.”

It also follows on from the State Government immediate emergency grants of up to $1,500 rolled out last month. The need for additional support to Riverland is a reflection of the heightened impact the current wine glut has had on the region, which has been a flag-bearer to the current economic pressures being faced by Australia’s grape growing industry. 

“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,” said Rowe.

“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.”

Large volume wine producers present at the meeting included Hill Smith Family Estates, Accolade, The Wine Group, CCW Co-Operative, Treasury Wines, and members of Riverland Wine Industry Development Council and Riverland Winegrape Growers Association Management Committee.

Representatives at the small volume sellers and highly trade-exposed growers meeting included Sherwood Estate, Destination Riverland, 919 Wines, Starrs Reach, Mallee Estates, Wine Movement, and members of Riverland Wine Industry Development Council and Riverland Winegrape Growers Association Management Committee. 

Riverland has also been in the news recently for the $4,000 per hectare buyout offer put forth from Accolade Wines to its grape growers at the CCW co-operative.

“There is currently no other feasible option on the table that allows us as an industry to manage the outcome and our future,” said Joe Russo, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Accolade Wines.

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