The Austrian wine sector saw export volumes remain steady in 2012 despite the tight supply, while revenues actually increased. According to provisional figures from Statistik Austria and the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB), exports in 2012 totaled 46 million liters with revenues reaching € 128.5 million. Because of the limited wine supply, however, there was a decline in the low-end price segment of the domestic market share. But this was compensated both at home and abroad by profits in the higher-price segment.
Increasing Export Revenues and Average Prices
Austrian wine export volumes 2012 did not increase significantly despite the good 2011 harvest, because the late frost that occurred on May 18th, 2012, resulted in a critically low quantity of wine from the main variety, Grüner Veltliner – just like in 2010. This white wine shortage, which was becoming evident already in Spring, led to high bulk wine prices and a supply bottleneck for the low price categories up to € 2. Nevertheless, export revenues increased because of growth in the higher price segments. This was reflected in the provisional figures by Statistik Austria (I-IX 2012) and projections by the AWMB (based on X-XII 2011), and based on a total export volume of 46 million liters and total export earnings of 128.5 million €. The low quantity of bulk wines – only 8 million liters – is markedly significant. With this, domestic winemakers were able to increase the average export price to € 2.79 per liter.
A Change in Strategy with a Focus on Quality
At home as well as in the main export market, Germany, it became apparent that Austrian wine is losing market share in the lowest price segment, while there is strong growth in the higher segments. Retail prices lower than € 2 per bottle of Austrian wine are seldom found. This is mainly because there has been a significant increase in sales of quality Austrian wines in the highly important value-for-money categories between €3 and €6 per bottle. While the entry level price segments are represented more and more by wines with other origins (especially Italy and Spain, but also EU blends), the domestic consumers are increasingly buying wines of better quality and in the higher price categories. For the first time – and once again for Germany – Austrian wines in these categories are showing marked growth, even taking into consideration the re-export of foreign wines in Austria through Austrian wine traders – which can total between 4 – 9 million liters.
Willi Klinger, the general manager of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, says that “Austrian wine is no longer available at a cheap price. But our winemakers have been able to convince consumers at home and abroad that their quality wines deserve a fair price. And this is vital for the future of viniculture in our country because of the local cost structure.”
EU, Switzerland and USA Continue as Important Trade Partners
The most important export area for domestic wine is the EU, where, with 40 million liters, nearly 90% of all Austrian wine exports are delivered. Germany remains Austria’s top wine import country, representing approximately 60% of all export revenue. The second key importer of Austrian wine is – as tradition has it – Switzerland, where there has been slight growth and the price average is more than € 6 per liter. Especially gratifying are the increases in the third-ranked USA (more than 10% in quantity; an average price of more than € 4 per liter) where, in 2012, the turnover climbed back to the level reached before the 2008/2009 economic crisis. Other increases were seen also in the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Finland and Italy. Amongst the new overseas markets, Japan and China were particularly noteworthy.