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UK imports of New Zealand wine up 11% as US becomes biggest export market

Published:  17 August, 2015

The US has overtaken Australia as the biggest export market for New Zealand wine.

American consumers bought NZ$372 million (£155 million) worth of wine in the year to June, a rise of 13%.

The US now accounts for around a quarter of all exports, with Australia close behind with sales of NZ$362 million (£151 million), a drop of 5% on 2014.

The UK is in a close third place on NZ$354 million (£148 million), a rise of 11%. Exports to the UK have more than doubled in the past 10 years.

All three markets consume almost four times as much New Zealand wine as the next biggest market, Canada.

Total exports grew 7% to NZ$1.4 billion (£585 million).

Sauvignon Blanc made up two-thirds of this year's harvest, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on around 8% each. The main grape variety accounted for 86.5% of total volume exports in the year to June.

New Zealand saw bulk wine exports rise by 34% with average prices down 5%. "Packaged wine exports rose 2% in volume but average prices fell by 1%.

New Zealand Winegrowers chair Steven Green said in the organisation's 2015 annual report that he expected those prise trends to reverse in 2015 because of the smaller harvest. The 2015 harvest was down 27% on the previous year at 326,000 tonnes.

"As a result of the smaller 2015 harvest, growers' income will be lower," he said.

"Export volume growth will be constrained in the year ahead, and wineries will draw down on vintage 2014 inventory to meet demand.

"Bulk wine prices, which declined in vintage 2014, have already risen. With the supply of vintage 2015 wines tight, wineries will be seeking value growth, rather than volume growth over 2015/16."

He added: "In terms of future supply, there has been a strong trend towards new plantings over the last two years, and an increase of 700ha of producing area is forecast over the next two years.

"We see these plantings continuing as strong sales in growth markets will fuel demand for increased production of key export styles."

New Zealand domestic sales were up 24% by volume during the year.