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The wine industry is clearly ahead of the curve in terms of seeking solutions to climate change, but presentations at the recent Climate Change Leadership summit in Portugal make it clear that further innovation by actors all along the wine industry value chain will be required to address the problem, according to Rabobank’s latest global Wine Quarterly.

The report says the summit looked at the growing impact on wine from specific elements relating to climate change – including drought, hail, early frosts and wild fire – as well as focusing on ways the industry could reduce greenhouse gases and manage water more efficiently.

Rabobank senior wine and horticulture analyst Hayden Higgins (pictured) said one of the key takeaways from the summit was the importance of understanding wine’s carbon foot print across the whole supply chain, given the data at the conference showed a vineyard only accounts for around 34 per cent of wine’s total greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 38 percent for packaging.

“Accordingly, packaging was one of the major sustainability issues covered at the event, with several presentations delving into packaging innovations such as the use of lighter glass wine bottles and cork closures,” he said.

Higgins said many of the topics discussed at the summit had strong relevance for New Zealand wine producers. “New Zealand wine producers will have been closely watching developments from the summit given the local industry’s focus on broader sustainability challenges including understanding the impacts of climate change. With New Zealand wine companies exporting a significant volume of wine in glass bottles, the sessions on advances in packaging are likely to have been of particular interest,” he said.

Meanwhile grape volumes for the 2019 harvest seem to be coming in lower than initially anticipated in several key wine producing regions but supply remains abundant in Argentina.

This situation, according to the report, is seeing the market become more heterogeneous with scarcity affecting specific products and qualities. “International prices for Argentinean wine are still declining while expectations of a smaller crop in Chile are triggering some price increases for varietal prices for the country. And in Europe, prices for generic whites from Italy remain soft while organic and similar wines are highly sought after,” Mr Higgins said.

New Zealand

In the 12 months to January 2019,  the report says, New Zealand wine exports continued steady, yet modest, upwards movement by volume and value compared to the year prior. Higgins said shipments to the UK and select European countries were above the average, with shipments to the UK lifting by five percent as importers increased inventory prior to the expected Brexit.

“Year-on-year for the month of December, UK imports of NZ wine increased by 32 percent, largely as a result of increased wine sales in bulk format,” he said. “This has carried on into January 2019, but dropped off in February 2019.  Overall total export value for the period experienced only a modest lift, in local currency terms.”  

Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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