US market ready for an Australian rebound

It’s been a difficult few years, but a new research report suggests that the US wine trade is ready to welcome Australia back to its shelves and wine lists.

This is the finding of a GWRDC-funded project undertaken by Wine Opinions and Wine Australia’s North American team.

Wine Australia believes that wineries that do the work and take a long-term collaborative approach to re-entering the US will find an interested and willing market.

Wine Australia Regional Director, North America, Angela Slade said the results showed the US trade had not given up on Australia and that there weren’t any insurmountable inventory or logistics issues blocking a rebound.

‘Granted, it’s been a rough period of five to seven years, but the trade has moved forward and is ready to see, taste and discover more of our wines’, she said.

‘The results have helped all of us in the Australian category feel more confident about our current strategy to highlight and educate consistently about premium, regional, diverse offerings, and to see that there is a growing market for Australian wine sales and traction at higher-price points, USD suggested retail prices $15–$19.99 primarily, and $20– $24.99’.

As part of the project, four discussion groups were held involving US wine distributors, importers and on- and off-premise representatives, to help gather insights from key members of the US wine trade and to explore barriers to the development of premium Australian wine sales in the US market.

Based on the project results, the top recommendations for importers of Australian wine  and Australian wineries include:

  • Education: Engage in education activities (trade, distributors, consumers) that focus on clear/straight-forward regional and premium messaging ($15–$25 price points)
  • Ambassadors: Empower the trade who are supporters to become ambassadors for you; empower them to promote and engage their consumer base
  • Logistics: Ensure a well-oiled supply chain to keep the lead times and other logistics under watch and to a minimum.

‘We know that this market requires a long-term focus, consistent messaging, and a ‘slow & steady’ approach in terms of expectations, inventory and market penetration’, Ms Slade said.

‘Wine Australia  has just created a Market Access program to address this timely opportunity to rejuvenate the category and support new or returning wineries to market via importer introductions and trade/media tastings and projects.

‘But, expectations need to remain cautious and wineries need to be ready to spend time in the market and build or rebuild personal relationships’.

Ms Slade said Australian wineries need to spend time re-learning the US market.

‘Our team has put together updated US market reports and is happy to share insights. We urge all wineries to work cautiously, particularly with regard to sales volume expectations’, she said.

This report, Ms Slade said, helped reinforce what many in the Australian wine community in the US market had been noticing for the past couple of years, and particularly after the very positive trade response to Savour Australia, Australia’s first global wine forum held in Adelaide last year.

‘The key call to action is collaboration. We saw this most recently with Savour’, she said.

‘Collaboration has been one of our best tactics in this competitive market over the years and I urge wineries and importers to work together with the Wine Australia USA team, their states, and local regions to build layered, supportive and formidable US market programs.

‘To make some significant impact in this market, we need to work together to share costs, gain traction, create continual excitement and ultimately carve out more market share and increase our average prices’, Ms Slade said.

The report is available online.


The Wine Australia USA team who worked on the Australia Today Trade Show events last month, from left, Mark Davidson, Shelley Hamer-Jackson, Angela Slade, Emily England)
The Wine Australia USA team who worked on the Australia Today Trade Show events last month, from left, Mark Davidson, Shelley Hamer-Jackson, Angela Slade, Emily England)