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High End Shows Silver Lining For Struggling Australian Wine Category

November 16, 2011

Australian wines continue to struggle in the U.S. market, but the category has seen recent promise at the high end. In September, sales of Australian wine in the $15-$19.99 per bottle price segment rose by 23% in the food, drug and convenience store channel, according to SymphonyIRI, while sales in the $20-and-up tier were up by 4.6%. Additionally, while top Aussie varietals like Shiraz and Chardonnay have lost ground in the U.S., an array of emerging varietals from Down Under—including Semillon, Riesling and Pinot Noir—are achieving promising growth in the food, drug and convenience store channel, as are both red and white Australian blends.

Capitalizing on this momentum, Australian trade group Wine Australia is rolling out a heightened outreach and visibility program for Australian wines in the U.S. in the early days of 2012. Three “Around Australia in 80 Sips” events will lead the January consumer outreach in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Activities around Australia’s national holiday “Australia Day” on January 26 will occur in cities around the U.S., and a global online “Taste & Tweet” is scheduled for January 26, using hashtag AussieWine.

Despite the positive signs, Australia’s difficulties in the U.S. market remain significant. For the 52 weeks ending October 15, Australian wines declined 4.5% by volume and 6.8% by value, according to Nielsen, which tracks wine sales in food stores, drugstores, convenience stores, liquor stores and other select channels that collectively account for nearly half of the U.S. table wine market, as estimated by Impact Databank.


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