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Henry speaks out on Australia's next big challenge

Published:  23 July, 2008

There are key issues that the Australian wine industry needs to address if it is to improve its performance in export markets, an Adelaide wine conference heard this week.

Paul Henry, general manager, market development, at the Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation (AWBC), addressed the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference.

The first issue, Henry said, is to realise that, unlike in the past, Australian products are not best placed to compete on price in major markets.

Australia needs to become more adept at engaging the trade, media and the consumer with something other than price point advantage, he said.

Secondly, he said, market education about products, brands and practices must be paramount, especially in the current climate of environmental, social and ethical concerns. Accurate resourcing needs to be in place for developing sustainable profitable positions in these markets.

For the UK, Henry said he believed that Australia can maintain its market share by working to improve its presence in off-premise and fine dining to counteract the current flat-lining of performance of Australian products in retail.

He quoted from the new Wine Australia strategy, Directions to 2025, voicing strong support for the "Regional Heroes" initiative, saying that Australia is producing regional wines "just as individual, just as credible as anything from a European appellation".

He stressed that the industry needs to move away from quantifying market success in volumes sold and move into value and quality.

In conclusion, he said: "The most influential role for the Australian wine sector to date is helping to create a global wine trade which promotes brand, region and quality as emphatically as we currently do price and volume."