Strong dollar hits US wine exports

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The strength of the US dollar last year meant that exports of
Californian wine declined 7 per cent in volume terms during 2002.
But value sales were up 1 per cent for the year, with sales to the
biggest market, the UK, up 12 per cent.

US wine exports, more than 90 per cent of which come from California, grew by 1 per cent in value to $548 million (€467m), despite a 7 per cent decline in volume to 74 million gallons.

The latest figures from the Wine Institute​, using data from the US Department of Commerce and USA Trade Online, show that the strength of the dollar affected export volumes negatively throughout most of the year, while the weakening of the dollar in the final quarter had a positive effect.

"The plentiful supplies of wine from recent harvests have allowed California vintners to emphasise and increase the quality versus price ratio,"​ said Wine Institute international director Joseph P. Rollo.

"Buyers abroad recognise that California wines satisfy consumer tastes and their demand for quality and consistency. We maintained our 5 per cent share of the world export market and shipped to 107 countries."

The UK is the largest market for Californian wines, accounting for a third of all exports with a value of $189 million, up 12 per cent, and volumes of 25 million gallons, up 6 per cent.

Other leading markets include Canada with sales of $93 million, Japan with $81 million, the Netherlands with $53 million, Belgium with $19 million, France with $13 million, Germany with $12 million, Ireland with $10 million, Switzerland with $7 million and Denmark with $6 million.

"California is collectively producing high quality wines that are consumer-led, and maintaining stable pricing levels,"​ said John McLaren, Wine Institute trade director for the UK. "The vintners are coming into this market on a long-term basis, and this consistent presence has gained the trust of the buyers."

Packaged California brands were responsible for most of the sales, which, along with other bottled US table wine exports, accounted for $443 million, up 5 per cent, for an 81 per cent share of the sales. Exported bulk wine totalled $34 million. US sparkling wine exports were $25 million, dessert wine exports reached $28 million and grape must and other fermented beverage exports totalled $18 million.

In the last decade, wine export revenues have increased more than 200 per cent, from $181 million in 1992 to $548 in 2002. The volume shipped has grown from 39 million gallons to 74 million gallons during the same period.

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