WorldWine Blog

2012-05-25

Austrian export drama continues

"Austria withdraws from the cheap market segment", was the title of the official answer, which the Austrian Wine Marketing dedicated, some weeks ago, to the critical reports in which Mario Scheuermann and myself had examinated, for nearly a year, the Austrian export statistics. At this moment, given the latest numbers, it looks like if Austria was, unvoluntarily perhaps, not only withdrawing from the cheap market segment but from the German market altogether.

In fact, if you look at the updated numbers published in the German Destatis database - they are much more precise than the numbers the Austrians give themselves, a fact which has implicitely recognized by the Austrian Wine Marketing in the above mentioned article - the impression is rather sobering.

In the category "wine produced from fresh wine grapes" the Austrian exports in direction of Germany went down from 649,000 hl between January and March 2011 - a year which itself had already been a desaster, as the exports to Germany had been halved compared with 2010 - to only 587,000 hl. Whilst the bulk export which had lost dramatically in the last two years, showed relatively stable and, in March, could even grow from 24,000 to 42,000 hl compared with 2011, the export of bottled wine, the Austrian's core business, was hit much more severely. From 500,000 in 2011 it shrank to 448,000 hl - a loss of 10.4 % - during January and March and, if you only look at the month of March, traditionally one of the stronger months of the Austrian's export year, volumes went down by not less than 33 % on a year-to-year base. This, on what used to be the most important Austrian export market, which absorbed two thirds of the whole export volume.

On the value side, the trend in the first three months of 2012 was less dramatical, and the moderate loss even lead to a rise of the relative price per litre which went up from 1.93 to 2.11 EUR (bottled wines from 2.18 to 2.41 EUR). Then again, the month of march showed a desastrous picture with a loss of 29 % against 2011. Useless to say that the bottled exports once used to be one of the strongholds of Austrian value creation in the wine business.

If, in Vienna, even now the alarm bells do not start to ring for some people, then we should not be too astonished if, sooner or later, the Austrian wine industry will have to declare a state of emergency tout court. The hope, forwarded by some, that the upcoming VieVinum show could bring some hope and relief seems somewhat unrealistic. The numbers of past years, in fact, do not show any evidence of sales gowing better after the show, if you compare them with years without the VieVinum.

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