It’s all about the UK, wine, beer and government

UK news

Several snippets of drinks-related news from the UK prompted me to shape this week’s editorial around the action there.

The Association of Wine Educators (AWE) is calling for submissions for the 2017 edition of 100 AWEsome Wines. I would be delighted to contribute some Australian suggestions should I get samples of wines that will be on sale next year in the UK.

Australia had a pitiful showing in the 2016 AWEsome Wines. But that can change, if producers are bothered. I need the samples labelled as “UK tasting” and the UK retail price plus the stockist. Entries have to be submitted by November 14 so I need them by the 9th at the latest.

The wines selected will be in two sections: £10 and under and £25 and under. They can be available anywhere in the UK.

No matter my affinity with Australian wines I retain a soft spot for beaujolais. There is nothing like it in Australia and it’s one of the very few aspects of my past life that I miss.  According to recently released figures, beaujolais exports to the UK are on the rise. For the eight months to August UK sales were up 25 per cent to 230,000 nine-litre cases, with an average export price per case of €35 ($50.53).

About the same time as the beaujolais export figures were released, so was the annual statement on the UK Government Wine Cellar. Figures were to end of March 2016.

The Government Wine Cellar contains 33,669 bottles of wines and spirits with a total cost value of £809,990 ($1.3 million).  The number of bottles used in 2015-16:

  • Wines : 1877
  • Reception wines white : 1258
  • Reception wines red : 542
  • Spirits & brandies : 53
  • Total : 3730

As one would hope, English and Welsh wines topped the list, with 1632 bottles used (including reception wines), equating to 44 per cent of the total.

France is way out in front and Australia is way, way down the list, with just two bottles used in the year, (said to be Moss Wood). Our New World competitors had more corks pulled or caps twisted:

  • Chile: 4
  • New Zealand: 27
  • South Africa: 25

The only good news I could find in the report was that 96 bottles of Australian white wine were bought during the year. But so were 96 bottles of New Zealand white, 60 bottles of US white and 180 bottles of South African white.

Craft beer is going crazy in the UK. It’s also doing well in Australia, as are cider and gin. The UK Government is looking for a £2.9 billion ($4.6 billion) increase in all food and drink exports. Australia and New Zealand have been targeted for an additional £293 million worth of exports over five years. Australia is reckoned to present opportunity for traditional British ambient grocery products, plus health and wellbeing goods, and both free-from and alcoholic drinks (beer and cider). Does this mean more UK promotional weeks in Aldi? Beer and cider are the main alcoholic drinks.

UK supermarket Tesco has had craft beer sales increase 130 per cent in the past year. The result is an increase from two craft beers to 30 stocked in 400 stores across the country.

UK craft beer coming into Australia is not of great concern, but its growing popularity in the UK and domestic craft beer’s popularity in Australia are taking the place of wine sales. Australian wine producers will ignore it at their peril.

In this week’s TKR there’s more on the Terramin gold mine in the Adelaide Hills, Coles taking on Dan Murphy’s, the resurgence of Tesco, the advancement of Constellation Brands and much more.

Unfortunately too late for this week’s report is the latest Wine Australia export statistics to the end of September. A quick look shows them to be very positive, from the report

“In the twelve months to September 2016, the value of Australian wine exports grew by 10 per cent to $2.17 billion and volume increased by 0.2 per cent to 734 million litres. The average value of exports grew by 10 per cent to $2.95 per litre, the highest level since December 2009.”

The volume is irrelevant compared to the value increase I will look at the figures in greater detail the coming week and report on them in the next TKR.

Drink well the coming week.


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