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Wine inventory high despite ‘steady sales’

By Tuesday 21 November 2023No Comments

Total sales of Australian wine were 11 percent above production in 2022-23 after the lowest wine production in 15 years, but were not enough to substantially reduce pressure on the historically high national wine inventory levels, according to Wine Australia’s Wine Production, Sales and Inventory Report 2023.

Australian wine production was 964 million litres, the lowest since 2006-07 and the first time since then that it has fallen below 1 billion litres. Meanwhile sales of Australian wine remained steady at 1.07 billion litres, with a small increase in domestic sales countering a similar-sized decline in exports.

Wine Australia manager, Market Insights, Peter Bailey said it was pleasing that sales had held steady this year despite difficult global conditions affecting all markets.

“This is the first time in five years that total sales volume has remained steady on a year-on-year basis,” Mr Bailey said.

“Sales of Australian wine have been decreasing in our domestic market and in export markets over the past five years, due to declining wine consumption combined with increased cost-of-living pressures and the effects of the significant duties on Australian wine to China.”

As a result of sales exceeding production, the national wine inventory decreased by four percent to an estimated 2.2 billion litres on 30 June 2023. The reduction was driven by red wine stocks, which were down by 10 percent compared with the previous year.

Mr Bailey noted that while this shift had reduced some pressure, inventory levels remain very high, particularly for red wine.

“This is a move in the right direction for the sector as it responds to the challenge of rebalancing supply and demand,” Mr Bailey said.

“However, it is only a small reduction after the lowest vintage in 20 years, and stocks of red wine remain at historically high levels.”

The national stock-to-sales ratio – a measure of how many years’ worth of sales is held in inventory – was 2.57 for reds, still 45 percent above the 10-year average despite decreasing by seven percent due to the decrease in inventory.

“The long-term average stock-to-sales ratio for red wine is around 1.8, which equates to having just under two years’ worth of sales in stock. The current level is over two-and-a-half years’ worth, which is very high in historical terms,” Mr Bailey said.

“If the ratio is too high, it puts pressure on winery inventories and reduces demand and price for winegrapes.”

The situation for whites is better than for reds, with the stock-to-sales ratio at 1.49 – much closer to its long-term average of 1.35. It decreased by two percent in 2022-23 due to the slight increase in sales (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Stock-to-sales ratio (SSR) for Australian wine by colour over time. Source: Wine Australia Production, Sales and Inventory surveys and ABS.


While supply and demand for white varieties appear to be more balanced, Mr Bailey noted that sales of white wine in 2022-23 were 463 million litres, which is considerably lower than the 10-year average production of 579 million litres.

“Rebalancing supply and demand remains a real challenge for the sector,” Mr Bailey said.

“Our situation reflects the global environment, as world wine production has exceeded consumption every year for at least the past 10 years.

“This prolonged oversupply, which is the equivalent each year of more than twice Australia’s production, has put increasing pressure on all wine-producing countries.”

The Wine Production, Sales and Inventory Report 2023 can be downloaded here.

The new Grape Price Indicators dashboard, developed by Wine Australia with funding from the Australian Government through its Improving Market Transparency in Perishable Agricultural Goods Industries program and launched last month, has been updated with the latest figures from the Production, Sales and Inventory Report 2023, as well as global figures from the OIV World Wine Production OutlookNovember 2023 and the Ciatti Global Market report for November.

The Grape Price Indicators dashboard can be found on the Wine Australia website.

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