Back up from Down Under

To add insult to injury, Australia is poorly represented in the on-trade. This is partly explained by the nationality or theme of the majority of places to eat out. Probably worldwide, they are: French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Indian or vaguely American themed. Can you name an Australian restaurant?


Rob Harrison, Accolade’s general manager, sales UK, added a word of warning: “We are in a good place but are we fit for the future? I am not sure we are where we want to be,” he said.

He sees the recent change in price promotions, the move away from deep discounts bogofs, half price deals, have largely gone and then range rationalisation along with the relative absence of on-trade listings as the major challenges for Brand Australia.

While the UK market seemed a bit doom and gloom in the Accolade/Wine Australia presentation at ADT, there was a mixture of realism and optimism out on the floor among exhibitors.

Negociants’ managing director Simon Thorpe MW echoed  Harrison’s remarks. “I think the challenge remains the same as over the past three or four years. For the long-term health and sanity of the category, we need to move to more premium levels.

“The marketplace has become difficult. The recent moves of the supermarkets means less opportunity for premium. Their ranges have consolidated and there are fewer wines above £10 in large distribution,” he said.

“The challenge for the industry is to find distribution opportunities. The challenge is to ‘premiumise’. We have become a victim of our own success. We should do more on the gastronomic levels, not just wine by itself. More premium wine is drunk with food.

“We have a void in the middle. We do have icon wines. The well off and collectors appreciate that Australia does make world-class wines.

“We have to keep it fresh and find new things to look at. Australia has masses of great wines. We have to innovate to keep that strong,” said Thorpe.

Australian Vintage’s Julian Dyer MW agrees: “We have plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Australia is still the ‘big gorilla’. We are still growing. Australian Vintage has McGuigan, which is a top-four global Australian wine brand.

“There is a lot of pressure on price. We are expecting a normal vintage so demand and supply is relatively in balance. The on-trade does vex us but there aren’t a lot of Australian restaurants and most sommeliers are not Australian.

“The direction we want to go is quality and regionality. The trend is own-label and core brands,” says Dyer.

Adrian Atkinson is market manager, UK & Europe for Wakefield, which is owned by the Taylor family in Clare Valley. He was formerly with Pernod Ricard Wines UK looking after one of Australia’s major global wine brands, Jacob’s Creek.

He says: “I think we can see some green shoots appearing.” He points out that the value of the Australian dollar has dropped against the US dollar a that has made a huge difference to Australia’s competitiveness. He adds: “Any move to premium and regionality is perfect for Taylors.”