WorldWine Blog

2012-03-12

Quo vadis, Austria?

Austria's wine exports - a success story? This, at least, is what the Austrian Wine Marketing Board tried to communicate to national and international media at the end of last year. Notwithstanding a very low harvest in 2010 and thus lower export quantities in 2011 (-25 %), Austrian wine exporters, so the official press release, had been able to increase their turnover by 2.6 % to a record breaking 126 m Euros. And the national and international press applauded.

At the time, already, we had had more than just one doubt concerning figures and percentages delivered by the Austrian Wine Marketing, and even more we questioned their interpretation of the facts (Quo vadis Austria?, Weinexport: Wenn ich ein Ösi wäre, posts in German). These doubts had risen in particular, because there was a huge, inexplainable difference between the export quantities in the direction of Germany claimed by the Austrians, and the imports from Austria, claimed by the Germans.

After an amazingly detailed and convincing research, Mario Scheuermann, one of the most respected German wine journalists, recently has found out, that the Austrian statistics most probably were based not only on wine exports of Austrian origins but included all re-exports stemming originally from other countries (Romania, Hungary, Italy ...).

This reduces the 2011 export balance between Austria and Germany dramatically: Instead of 328,948 hl as claimed by the Austrians, only 245,572 hl were really exports of Austrian wines. This represents, in the German import statistics which make the difference between the country of origin and the country which they only transited, a loss of 39.7 % in comparison with 2010, instead of only 27 % in the Austrian tables. The value side offers an identical picture: Instead of yielding an increased turnover (1.2 %) the Austrians suffered a loss of 16.4 %. Value wise the Austrians

Fact ist, that even the world wide statistics have to be re-written according to this correction as Germany still buys more than two thirds auf Austria's exported wine - 328,948 out of a total 457,205 hl, according to the Austrian tables. Thus, even if we assume that the export numbers in direction of other countries than Germany are correct (at least we have no information about re-exports to these countries), the exports of Austrian wines totalled only 373,829 instead of 457,205 hl. Value wise the Austrians only yielded 103.5 m Euros instead of 126.7 m.

A success story? Well, if you consider that these corrected quantities correspond to those of the early 2000s - a time when re-exports played a much lesser role than today - and that values were down to the level of about 2007, you might really doubt about this interpretation. The lesson to learn? Never believe the success stories of wine marketers if you have no chance to double-check the numbers.

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