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Looking ahead: Laura Jewell MW, regional general manager EMEA, Wine Australia

Published:  14 August, 2019

As the first half of 2019 draws to a close, Harpers asked key trade figures to highlight the current challenges, ongoing trends and opportunities

We continue our series with insights from Laura Jewell MW, regional general manager EMEA, Wine Australia 


How has the first half of 2019 been when compared to the same period in 2018?

It seems like so much has happened in the UK and yet we’re no closer to an agreement on Brexit and there’s still uncertainty and challenging conditions. The resilient UK trade has pushed forward, we’ve planned for all sorts of eventualities and continued to innovate. Like many organisations, we’ve not rested on our laurels and we’re continuing to evolve our events and activities.

What were the highs and lows for Wine Australia in the first six months of 2019?

Global exports of Australian wine continue to grow and 2019 was another quality vintage with a good-sized crop. A couple of weeks ago, we shared our estimate of the 2019 crush – 1.73 million tonnes, just 1% below the 10-year average. This is well above early predictions that the harvest would be 10–20% down on 2018.

Currently we are seeing a slight decline in Australian wine exports to the UK, but Australia is still number one in the off-trade with growth ahead of the market so that is positive. Highs also include our Australia Trade Tastings and the launch of our new education programme Australian Wine Discovered in January.

What, currently, are the biggest challenges for the trade?

It has been a turbulent time in politics, the economy has lost momentum and the high street has been tough. The ongoing impact on exchange rates is particularly challenging.

Will you be preparing in any way for a second potential ‘no deal’ or some deal Brexit day on 31 October and, if so, how?

The Brexit impasse means it’s hard to plan for anything with any sort of certainty at the moment. But plan we must! Wine Australia has been working closely with government, the WSTA and businesses to advise on the areas most likely to be impacted such as movement of goods and customs, documentation, labelling and tariffs. We are a resilient industry and most wine businesses have made sure they’re ready to adapt.

Taking current trading conditions into account, what’s your strategy for meeting those challenges during the second half of the year, leading up to the crucial Christmas trading period?

I remain optimistic about the coming year and the resilience of the UK and European trade. We’ll continue to enhance our events and make the most of global initiatives such as our education programme Australian Wine Discovered, new consumer website and Made our Way branding. We’ll also be focusing on staff training for retailers and importers, and we will continue our tasting series in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands.

What will the focus be on with regard to your portfolio (and any updates) and why?

Our focus in the UK this autumn is Australia’s premium and fine wines. Australia holds the largest market share of the UK off-trade, but recent IRI figures show that we have 3% of the £20+ segment. We’re therefore hosting Australia Redefined in London on 17 September. Through a trade tasting, master classes and a consumer tasting evening, we want to raise awareness of our premium wines, challenge perceptions of Australian wine and showcase the people and places that make our wines unique.

For you, what are the most significant emerging trends in the drinks world?

Premiumisation across the drinks trade. Whilst consumption in the UK is down, quality is up and there’s a willingness to pay a little more to enjoy something better. This is the rationale behind our Australia Redefined event in London. Focusing on wines over £20 a bottle, we want to demonstrate the incredible breadth and depth of Australian wine and what amazing value for money you can find if you dig deeper.

What innovations in the drinks world do you believe will have the most impact going forward?

Different sized formats (especially cans and bag-in-box), growing use of Coravin in the on-trade to offer a wider selection by the glass, and better quality lighter and lower alcohol alternatives.

What, for you, would make for a perfect summer?

England regaining the Ashes please.