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Published:  23 July, 2008

A glut of red grapes is on the cards in Australia after the biggest crush in the country's history. The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation puts the size of the crush at some 1.76 million tonnes, up 9% on the previous record year of 2002 and up 25% on last year's harvest, which was severely affected by drought. AWBC spokesperson Lawrie Stanford said the high level of the crush would leave the industry with an oversupply of red grapes for two years, but added that, if sales remained at their current rate, there would be an undersupply' by 2006. Stanford also said that the crush would help ease undersupply problems with white grapes, particularly Chardonnay. The twin giants of the industry Southcorp and BRL Hardy reported an increase in the amount of grapes harvested of 28% and 23% respectively. The industry was also rocked by news that domestic sales were down 5% in April compared with the same period last year, although an increase in exports by value of 7% for the year to May 2004 provided some good news. Sales by volume increased in every major market except New Zealand, with the US and Canada leading the way with double-digit growth. The UK saw sales by volume rise 3.9%, although sales by value fell by 4.5%. The bad news for the Australian wine industry was that average price per litre dropped by 7% and was down in every major market - a situation not likely to be helped by a grape glut.