Call for Australian wine funding boost

Leading players in the UK trade are calling on the Australian government and Wine Australia to boost funding for the body’s UK arm so it can keep competing against rival countries.

Chris Ellis, commercial director for wines at Pernod Ricard UK, said: “It is doing a great job but has very little financial resource. It’s important it continues to lobby hard for more funding from the Australian government as there is still a huge opportunity for the next phase of Australian wine developments in the UK.”

Julian Dyer, Australian Vintage general manager for the UK and Europe, said: “Wine Australia is doing a great job with the tools at its disposal, but I would love [UK and EU director] Yvonne May to have a bigger budget, as she knows how to align the stakeholders and deliver consistency of message and events to trade and journalists alike.”

Accolade Wines UK general manager Paul Schaafsma urged the Australia-based management board to continue supporting the UK.

“The UK is a large consumer of Australian wine and an important market for our precious industry,” he said. “Continue to support and fund the UK Wine Australia office to the level it deserves. There may be other regions of the world that appear to be more on-trend and topical but few offer the market share and consumer support of the UK.”

Liberty Wines managing director David Gleave added: “Wine Australia in the UK is doing a great job, despite the confusion that seems to reign in Australia.

“That is a tribute to the tenacity and hard work of May and her team. But it doesn’t excuse the poor communication coming out of Australia – something that needs to be remedied soon if the UK is to remain an important market for Australian wine.”

The UK trade praised May for setting up an advisory think- tank, and hailed a success the Savour Australia wine business forum in Adelaide in September.

Treasury’s UK general manager Dan Townsend said: “The move towards a pay as you play model, away from the one size fits all approach, has been a great step in the right direction. It has made the body more relevant to more producers. To have a strong Australian wine industry in the UK, it’s vitally important that we have a strong generic body.”

Some 80 exhibitors will be showing more than 1,000 wines at the annual Australia Day Tasting in London’s Lindley Hall on January 30.

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