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Schaafsma: Australia has a lot to shout about

Published:  23 September, 2013

As an Australian working in the UK, Paul Schaafsma, Accolade Wines' chief executive for Europe, is determined to play his part in shouting about what his country can offer the UK wine market.

Schaafsma was talking to as he returned from the Savour conference, held in Adelaide last week, which was billed as the most "comprehensive exploration of Australia ever undertaken".

He said the event did not disappoint, bringing key distributors and players from all over the world together to hear first-hand what Australia is doing to make itself a country where they need to be doing business.

"It was well worth going and hearing the strong messages that are coming out of Australia. From a commercial point of view it was also good to hear how relevant we are as well," he said.

But he is also aware of his own responsibility. He said: "I work for Accolade, but I am passionate about Australia and, as an Australian working in the UK, I am aware there are not many of us shouting out hard about what we are trying to do. So it was good to go and hear all the good things that are going on and be able to come back and help talk about it."

One of those new initiatives is the three-year link-up between Tourism Australia and Wine Australia to use wine and food as the central planks of the international advertising campaign.

He agreed it potentially could result in a "sea change" in how the Australian wine industry is able to promote itself around the world. The potential of the link-up was there to be seen, he said, at the Savour event, which was more than a wine conference with a real focus on food, local produce and the restaurant scene, with many top chefs present. "I was amazed at the diverse level of attendees," said Schaafsma.

Savour also, he added, had the appropriate focus on Australia's regional and premium wine offer. As well as the strength of its regional offer Schaafsma said he would also like it to become "famous" for its blending ability as well. "We need a good balance," he stressed.