drinks yearbook | 17 Industry voice Brown Brothers Ross Brown CEO Our industry is under siege from an invisible external force that we cannot control: International Exchange rates. The impact on all producers is profound and most significantly those who have spent a generation developing export markets. Markets such as the UK and the USA, our most important, are now generally unprofitable and at best marginal. Our historical lower price points and no longer relevant, and while there are many great wines that should command higher price points, this is not the commercial model of the international retailers who have a very clear price point in mind for their major Australian brands. Good work has been done by Wine Australia and Australia’s First Families of Wine to reposition the Australian fine wine category however the volumes are small and involves a hard sell in the depressed economic cycle. It is going to take a very tenacious and determined effort by the whole of the industry to retain our values and creditability, as a great wine producing country, that ensures we are able to re claim our territory when the exchange rates do change. The emergence of Asia and in particular, China, has created an opportunity to enter an emerging market that is profitable and without the historic baggage of entry priced wines. Success here can only be sustained through excellence and image again a whole of industry responsibility. The flip side, and double whammy, is that imported wines are cheaper further depressing demand and opportunity for Australian producers. Brown Brothers response is to invest solidly in Asia and China through appointing a full time representative in Hong Kong to support the business at the same time developing innovative new wines and consumer offers for both domestic and export markets. The domestic launch of our mini range of 200/225ml of four of our fruity wine styles including Moscato and Cienna has exceeded our expectations with a solid flow on to the 750ml bottles. The concept of trial and further brand engagement has been excellent. The most exciting initiative over Christmas has been the national release of Prosecco NV that has captured an exciting new to sparkling wine consumer. Where “Champagne” is seen as very traditional, Prosecco is the new sparkling, with lots of contemporary lifestyle style for summer. Innovation with a long-term view is our road to success. Exchange rates will fall but what we do not know is when.
drinks yearbook 2012
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