US wine exports hit record RM4.4b last year

Wine exports, 90 per cent from California, rose by 2.6 per cent in 2012. – Picture courtesy of ©kaband/Shutterstock.comWine exports, 90 per cent from California, rose by 2.6 per cent in 2012. – Picture courtesy of ©kaband/

WASHINGTON, Feb 23 – US wine exports uncorked a record year in 2012, bringing in US$1.43 billion (RM4.4 billion) in revenues as demand grew in Germany, Sweden, Japan and China, the Wine Institute said Thursday.

Wine exports – 90 per cent from California – rose by 2.6 per cent, the third year in a row of increases, said the San Francisco-based institute, which represents the California wine industry.

Volume shipments reached 424.6 million liters, or 112.2 million cases, last year, a slight slowdown from 2011 shipments of 425.5 million liters (47.3 million cases).

“California wine exports continue to increase because of our quality, diversity and value, despite a highly competitive global market, significant trade barriers and a still recovering economy,” Robert Koch, the institute’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

“We’ve worked to create more opportunities to export our wines by supporting our government in opening markets with free-trade agreements and other negotiations,”Koch said.

The 27-country European Union was the top market for California wines, with sales rising 1.7 per cent to US$485 million, the San Francisco-based Wine Institute said.

Exports to Germany were up 6 per cent from 2011, and 14 per cent to Sweden, where sales were mostly red wine.

In Britain, California wine exports grew by 2.8 per cent in value while France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Chile and South Africa all lost ground, said John McLaren, the institute’s director for the United Kingdom.

“With an uncertain economy, and against a background of governmental anti-alcohol abuse measures, the UK wine trade has suffered some setbacks, but California has done well to preserve its market share and take advantage of some new opportunities in the independent retail and restaurant sectors,” McLaren said.

Exports to Canada rose 14 per cent to US$434 million, while Hong Kong was the third-largest export market by value, at US$115 million.

Sales in China, a top-priority growth market for US vintners, surged 18 per cent to US$74 million.

Exports to Japan rose 6 per cent to US$111 million, and included a growing amount of up bulk wine as major Japanese importers bottle them in Japan, reducing import duties, as well as more premium-priced wines, the institute said.

South Korea’s export market value grew a hefty 26 per cent, to US$16 million, following the US-South Korea free-trade pact that took effect in March 2012. – AFP-Relaxnews



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