Domestic New Zealand wine sales up 18 per cent
Domestic New Zealand wine sales soared 18 per cent in the year to March following a bumper 2014 vintage.
New Zealand Winegrowers figures show nearly 60 million litres of New Zealand wine was sold domestically.
New Zealand Winegrowers has about 850 grower members and 700 winery members.
Its chief executive Philip Gregan said domestic New Zealand wine sales experienced such high growth because 2014 was a big vintage for New Zealand wineries.
This resulted in New Zealand winegrowers selling bulk wine to the domestic market which was usually catered for by international bulk suppliers, Gregan said.
Bulk wine was sold in large 24,000 litre bladders before being packaged for sale to consumers, he said.
Real growth for the New Zealand wine market was about 6 per cent, he said.
The total market for New Zealand including imported wine was about 95 million litres in 2014, he said.
New Zealand winemakers exported 196 million litres of wine in 2014 worth $1.38 billion, an increase of 5 per cent on 2013.
Off all the wine exported, 87 per cent was sauvignon blanc.
Sales to Australia, which is New Zealand's largest wine export market, dropped 3 per cent to $370m last year, largely due to the downturn in the Australian economy, Gregan said.
Also a smaller 2013 New Zealand vintage resulted in a shortage of wine exported to Australia but availability was now increasing, he said.
"While the overall number is still down it's actually started to pick up a bit."
Exports to the United States and Britain both increased 9 per cent to $352m and $339m last year.
Gregan said the United States would overtake Australia as New Zealand's largest wine export market by May next year.
"We certainly see the United States as a very significant growth opportunity over the next five years for the industry."
New Zealand wine exports to China peaked in February 2013 at $31m, he said.
The peak coincided with the Chinese government introducing austerity measures including a crackdown on gifting which impacted New Zealand wine sales, Gregan said.
That had a big impact on high end wine imports into China and New Zealand exports fell to about $20m in late 2013, he said.
Exports to China grew 22 per cent to $27m in 2014.
"We're very optimistic about the future for New Zealand wine in China but we would always stress it's a long term opportunity rather than a short term one," Gregan said.