Friday, 06 October 2023 14:25

New Zealand to Australia

Written by  Staff Reporters
Cameron Douglas MS, centre, at the Somewhat Sommit in Melbourne. Cameron Douglas MS, centre, at the Somewhat Sommit in Melbourne.

Parochial buying has never been stronger in the Australian market, but New Zealand wine is deemed 'almost local' across the Tasman, says Catherine Wansink, Australia market consultant for New Zealand Winegrowers.

In this Q&A Catherine looks at why that's both a challenge and an opportunity, and offers other insights into New Zealand wine's third largest export market.

How is New Zealand wine performing in Australia?

New Zealand is the largest country of origin wine imported to Australia, comprising about 11.8% of the market by value and 9.6% by volume. That's followed by France with about 9.3% share by value and 2.6% by volume. Unsurprisingly, Australian wine dominates the market with about 75% share by value and 85% by volume. Herein lies the challenge for New Zealand wine - to carve out a positioon of what makes New Zealand wine unique and different to local cool climate offerings in a highly parochial market. Chardonnay is an opportunity with momentum. According to the latest Australian scan data (Circana Australia Weighted Liquor) total Chardonnay grew +2.6% value but declined -0.2% volume. New Zealand Chardonnay outperformed the category, growing +5.9% value and +9.9% volume. New Zealand Chardonnay is priced at a 44% premium to the market.

What are the greatest challenges and opportunities in this market?

Growing the premium end of the market, in particular Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. There is demand and interest for premium New Zealand Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in both retail and on-premise; the challenge is telling the story of what makes our wines unique and different, and to articulate the premium messaging to support the price premium. Securing a suitable distributor to support and grow the brand is also a challenge as distributor portfolios are often at capacity.

The premiumisation of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is an ongoing challenge in what is a mature market for the category. We are seeing the divide deepen within the category, with the lower price points at one end and a positive story at the premium end.

Supporting local and buying Australian has never been stronger in the Australian market. However, consumer perception research tells us that when it comes to food and beverage, Australians consider New Zealand as 'almost local' and will buy New Zealand produce if it offers something unique and different to local offerings. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for New Zealand wine, to be held in the 'almost local' consideration set, while maintaining a story of provenance and what makes New Zealand wine Altogether Unique.

What is the Somewhat Sommit Initiative?

It's an in-depth technical New Zealand wine tutorial, providing an update and a snapshot of what's happening in New Zealand wine right now, including smaller planted varieties, a Chardonnay bracket and some new wave wines. Offered by New Zealand Winegrowers in partnership with Sommeliers Australia, it is based on the original 'Sommit' format hosted by Cameron Douglas MS and Stephen Wong MW - but this time on Australian soil rather than in New Zealand. It's important to engage with sommeliers as they are an influential cohort that can educate, drive wine trends and shape the drinking culture and mood of our wine bars and restaurants, which is where the magic happens.

What else has been rolled out in your market?

Following the Somewhat Sommits in each city we take the opportunity to open up a wider trade and media tasting which includes the wines from the tutorial and some additional wines. In addition to our partnership with Sommeliers Australia, we have just become a partner with Australia's Wine List of the Year Awards and will have a presence at this year's award ceremony. We have also developed a year-round publicity programme to ensure we are raising the visibility of New Zealand wine in Australia.

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