Growers lash out at industry review

A MAJOR review of the performance of the Australian wine industry that’s called for a reduction in commercial grade wine grapes has drawn the ire of the Mildura-based Murray Valley Winegrowers (MVW).

The so-called Expert Review of the Wine Industry, prepared for the Winemakers Federation of Australia (WFA), investigated many issues. These included  the industry’s poor profitability, wine grape oversupply, lack of international competitiveness, lack of market growth in wine markets, loss of image of Australian wines overseas, booming sales of imported wine in Australia, poor performing vineyards and market dominance of major liquor retailers.

MVW chief executive Mark McKenzie said it was the fourth “big picture” assessment of the industry’s performance over the past 15 years, starting with the 2025 Vision report that led to a vine planting frenzy.

The latest review recommends the removal of more commercial grade fruit to overcome the price distortion that oversupply is causing.

“This is code for more independently owned vineyards and growers need to go,” Mr McKenzie said. 

“The central proposition of the review is that oversupply of commercial wine grapes is chronic and must be reduced, and Australia must grow and deepen its wine markets. 

“It is ironic that the wineries blame fruit oversupply from independent growers for much of their woes, but they have not advocated any direct action to reduce excess production either through cool climate commercial wine grape production, or through the removal of excess wine production capacity.

“The commercial signals are also scrambled. If, as the review insists, there is a large structural oversupply and this is predominantly located in cooler districts, why did cool district grape prices rise 9.5 per cent this year against a rise of only 3.5 per cent in the inland regions? 

For more of this story, purchase your copy of Saturday's Sunraysia Daily 5/10/2013.

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