RPT-Australian wine exports rebound as China chooses cheaper tipples

Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:25pm EST
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(Repeats story published late Wednesday; no changes to text) GRAPHIC: Australian wine exports to China: link.reuters.com/juj83w

By Jane Wardell SYDNEY, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Australian wine exports to China rebounded last year as sales of cheaper wines gained traction, bucking a regional shift towards high-end tipples.

Australian government data shows total wine exports to China rose 8 percent last year to 40 million litres, valued at A$224 million ($183.34 million). That's a significant turnaround from 2013 when wine exports plunged 16 percent.

The revival was driven by sales of the low-value A$2.50-A$4.99 segment, following the introduction of tough austerity measures in China in late 2012. In contrast, Asia accounted for more than 90 percent of Australia's ultra-premium wine exports - above A$50 a litre - according to data from the Australian Grape and Wine Authority published on Wednesday.

The Australian industry has placed its faith in premium wines, increasing production of high-end tipples as a global wine glut combined with reduced orders from major economies prompted the international market to shrink.

Overall Australian wine exports rose 1.9 percent in both volume and value last year to 700 million litres, or A$1.82 billion - the first increase in value since the global recession took hold in 2007. The rise was backed by strong demand for premium wines in North America and Europe as well as Asia. ($1 = 1.2217 Australian dollars) (Editing by Ryan Woo)