Austria celebrates wine export growth

Despite problems in some major markets, Austria’s wine exports defied all expectations in 2009, rising by 5.3% in value and 16% in volume.

“It was a great surprise and we are very happy,” Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB)managing director Willi Klinger told drinks International, at the biennial VieVinum wine show in Vienna.

Hit by the global economic difficulties, Austria’s national exports across all industry sectors fell dramatically by 20%, according to Statistik Austria. And although the large 2008 wine harvest led to a disproportionately high rise in bulk exports, bottled wine export volumes also managed to rise by 3.7% (4.4% value).

The greatest strides forward were seen in Sweden (up 51.4% by volume, 38.4% by value); Netherlands (up 29.5% vol, 27% val); Japan (up 33.3% vol, 9.5% val); Switzerland/Liechtenstein (up 27.1% vol, 5.9% val); and Germany (up 15.4% vol, 9.2% val).

However some markets saw major drops, particularly in value, notably the US (-0.6% vol, -17.6% val); UK (-1.5% vol, -16.8% val); Czech Republic (up 6.6% vol, -11.3% val).

The US and UK were affected “for obvious reasons”, said Klinger. But the situation was made worse in the US by a major importer experiencing commercial problems – affecting more than 20 Austrian wine producers.

“We have fixed the US problems,” said Klinger, “and I am sure it will grow again next year.” Many of the affected producers’ wines are now imported by two other major companies.

In 2009 Austria exported nearly 70 million litres of wine, increasing turnover from Euros 112m to Euros 119m. Nationally, the country produces about 250m litres annually and consumes about the same, so import and export volumes are generally evenly balanced.