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New Zealand Wine Producers See Positive Signs As Vintage Begins

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
New Zealand Wine Producers See Positive Signs As Vintage Begins

The 2011 New Zealand grape harvest is underway with grape growers and wineries buoyed by recent developments.

"A warm summer and favourable weather in the last few weeks has ensured many regions are experiencing a slightly earlier vintage. We have high expectations for the 2011 harvest quality, provided we continue to experience a typical New Zealand autumn of warm dry days and cool, clear nights," said Philip Gregan New Zealand Winegrowers' chief executive officer.

Industry optimism has also been boosted by the stronger than expected sales performance in the current year. "Bottled wine exports are continuing to grow at 10 per cent annually and our performance in key markets is encouraging. As a result, we now estimate total sales for June year end (JYE) 2011 will be 220 million litres compared to earlier forecasts of 205 million litres."

"This new forecast suggests JYE 2011 sales will exceed production from the 2010 vintage by 30 million litres, meaning lower stock levels for many wineries going into the current harvest. This stock reduction is an important step in rebalancing the sector."

With stocks lower and total JYE 2011 sales now forecast to be the equivalent of a vintage of 310,000 tonnes, New Zealand Winegrowers is unsurprised its Pre-vintage Survey of medium and large wineries is forecasting a larger harvest in 2011.

"The Pre-vintage Survey indicates we are likely to have a vintage of around 310,000 tonnes, or a similar size to expected JYE 2011 sales. The Survey indicates wineries are responding to the stronger sales and lower stocks by lifting grape intake accordingly."

However, Mr Gregan accepts challenges still remain for the industry. "Profitability for both growers and wineries is an on-going concern for all participants in the sector. Lower prices and retailer-owned brands have been part of the export growth in the past year. As an industry we need to remain focused on recovery of winery and grower profitability as a pre-requisite to sustainable growth."

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