NZ wine exports on track for another good year

New Zealand wine exports are on track to exceed growth forecasts for the 2019 export year, according to a just-released report.

The Rabobank Agribusiness Report said modest growth for New Zealand wine exports was expected to continue over the balance of the calendar year 2019. 

"In early 2019, wine import growth continued the slowdown witnessed in 2018 for both the US and China, while Brexit has been thrown a lifeline, for now," said Horticulture and Wine Senior Analyst, Hayden Higgins.

He said New Zealand’s export value and volume is in line to exceed MPI 2019 forecasts. 

"Rabobank expects overall value growth to be around NZD 60m, representing a 4 percent year-on-year change, which is in line with our earlier forecast for modest value growth in our 2019 Agribusiness Outlook," he said.

Wine export revenue to the US contracted slightly in the 12 months to February 2019 by around one percent, but the US remained New Zealand's lead market by value. 

The report said total US wine imports, on a case equivalent basis, contracted by 4 percent in the 12 months to December 2018, but New Zealand achieved overall growth at the expense of other exporters such as Chile, Australia, Spain, and South Africa. 

Total US import volumes contracted again in the first two months of 2019, but at a slower rate than 2018. 

New Zealand continues to experience strong wine export growth to China, off a small base. 

The report said China's wine import volumes contracted in 2018, and the market there continues to evolve as consumers trend towards premiumisation and drinking less but more (lower volumes of higher value wines).

Rabobank expects importers to run down current inventory levels, and then start rebuilding stocks in the third quarter, prior to a new Brexit date.