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Published:  23 July, 2008

Australian wine exports broke the 500 million litre barrier for the first time last year, with strong growth in markets such as the US, Canada and Germany. The figures, released last week by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC) for the year to May 2003, show overall growth was 25% (both value and volume) and that UK sales growth slowed 11% - to 214 million litres, the lowest rate for a number of years. However, a massive 52% increase in sales to the US (up to 136 million litres), together with volume growth in the Canadian (+28%), New Zealand (+29%) and German (+83%) markets, means Australia has added 100 million litres to its exports in just 12 months. The first 100 million litre milestone was achieved during 1993 and another six years passed before sales doubled to 200 million litres,' said Lawrie Stanford, manager of information and analysis at AWBC. A steeper rate of growth in the last five years means 100 million litres has been achieved more rapidly - with the 300, 400 and 500 million litre milestones achieved in 23-, 13- and 12-month time spans respectively.' The value of sales to the US now amount to 92% of the UK total (A$817 million, compared to A$888 million). If the current growth rates remain the same, the US will overtake the UK to become Australia's most important export market by value in the next year. The Californian wine industry also saw a rise in exports, with a 35% increase to $165 million by value in the first quarter of 2003. The rise, the biggest since the mid-1990s, is attributed to the falling US dollar. The UK remained by far the biggest export market, taking a third of all exports.