Saturday, 05 August 2023 15:25

Billions in booming exports

Written by  Sophie Preece

A burgeoning appetite for Sauvignon Blanc in the United States is helping drive New Zealand wine sales, with exports hitting $2.4 billion in the year to May.

That’s up 25% on 2022 and testament to the increasingly strong global demand for New Zealand wines, says New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) Chief Executive Philip Gregan. “New Zealand wine, particularly Sauvignon Blanc, is going from strength to strength in the USA.”

Clive Jones, Chair of the NZW board and General Manager of Nautilus Estate in Marlborough, says a bumper 2022 vintage allowed companies to replenish empty supply lines after the extremely light 2021 harvest failed to meet a lockdown-surge in retail sales. That replenishment, which saw many New Zealand companies bottle earlier than ever last year, played a role in the 25% leap in export sales. But an upward trend in demand, led by the US market, is also a key driver. “Sauvignon is a growth category in the US and we are the premium product in this category,” Clive says. “We make a very distinctive wine and this is driving demand.”

In more established markets like the United Kingdom, New Zealand wine is holding its premium, he adds, referencing Nielson data that shows that in major markets New Zealand Sauvignon is selling at a higher price than the market and the vast majority of its competitors. “So we are driving premiumisation in the Sauvignon category internationally.”

The combination of premium price, along with surging demand in the US is “a great news story for New Zealand”, Clive says. “We are gaining market share and we are gaining market share at a premium price.” Sauvignon Blanc, which accounted for 76.5% of the 2022 vintage and 78.1% in 2023, remains the winning card, he adds. “From a diversity point of view we are having some success with other varieties, but it is hard to come out of the shadow of Sauvignon.”

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