China market moves ahead

LOOKING FORWARD: Balnaves of Coonawarra business manager Kirsty Balnaves welcomes the forward thinking for the China market. Picture: FILE

Charlotte Varcoe

A NUMBER of prominent wineries across Coonawarra had their chance to learn how to get back into the markets in China after a series of workshops.

The workshops were presented by the Department for Trade and Investment in partnership with the South Australian Wine Industry Association and the Department of Primary Industries and Regions.

The in-person workshops supported the South Australian wine sector to gain more of an insight into the China market.

A team of expert speakers covered topics such as macroeconomic conditions and outlook, the alcohol and wine market, market access and legal considerations and market entry and cultural awareness.

Coonawarra Vignerons chief executive Hugh Koch said the event provided information about how different the market in China would be compared to before the tariffs were introduced.

“It is going to be interesting to see that they can maintain the same sort of growth as they have for the last 10 years,” Mr Koch said.

“The projections are that they won’t so we are going to be mindful of that.”

He said those hosting the event said doing business in China was heavily emphasised with wine buyers and the wine trade in China eager to have locals back again.

“When the Premier went over there in October last year that was the feeling they got as they would like to welcome us back and could not wait to do so,” he said.

“It will be a different time again of which we need to make sure we are compliant with the current labelling laws which have changed.

“They now include things like ingredients on the labels and there is a fair bit of technical stuff too.”

Mr Koch said all the information was well received by attendees despite a number of hurdles expected prior to getting back into the market.

“China reopening will start to free up some of the volume that has been produced in Australia and that will enable a bit more stability within the industry itself and that is really important to start with,” he said.

“It is going to be important to understand because there are some barriers which have been created.”

Wine industry association chief executive Inca Lee helped with the sessions stating the response from attendees was terrific.

“We had great engagement with growers and winemakers who were there,” Ms Lee said.

“The aim of the workshop was knowing that preview was underway and ensuring that winemakers, grape growers and wine exporters were informed about the CHina market and the alcohol market.”

Ms Lee said the association was actively sending out all the information they were provided, allowing attendees to reflect on and think about how they would use the updated information to inform business decisions in the future.

“That is really important and we will maintain that link of communication going out to grape growers and winemakers around the China market together with the Department for Trade and Investment and the State Government,” she said

“We were delighted that it was well received and we could have the opportunity to come together as we know it is a busy time in the lead up to vintage but we also know the China market provides opportunities and I think that was demonstrated by the interest in the workshop.”

Balnaves of Coonawarra business manager Kirsty Balnaves said she was feeling positive but precautious following from the workshops stating wineries needed to re-enter the market “responsibly” when it opens.

“Should it reopen the South Australian wine industry would still be the biggest trading partners,” Ms Balnaves said.

“The workshops gave insight into what the China market will potentially look like and it is a very different market to the one we left.”

She said winemakers and such now had a greater understanding of the market and how South Australian wines could work their way back onto China shelves while also commending the “great initiative” of the South Australian Department for Trade and Investment in its support of the industry.