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Project aims to boost outlook for winemakers

The Australian government's leading wine industry marketing authority will conduct a major new research project into the British online wine market with the aim of helping local winemakers grab a greater slice of the growing web retail channel as the high Australian dollar and cheap wine from South America and southern Europe eats into sales.

Wine Australia said Tuesday morning the project would look at the online market from both a retailer and consumer perspective, and would aim to identify new opportunities for Australian wine producers to grow their business within this key sales channel.

The study will be primarily funded by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation as part of its research investment program to help enhance the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian wine industry.

"The UK remains one of the biggest and most important markets for the Australian wine category. This project aims to provide deep insights into the online channel in the UK and identify the opportunities for the profitable and sustainable growth of Australian wine sales in the UK," said Peter Bailey, wine sector intelligence manager for Wine Australia.

The project commences this month and results will be released by mid-year.

Last week Wine Australia released figures showing exports to the US and Britain, Australia's biggest and most important markets, suffered continued value declines.

Wine Australia showed sales to Britain increased 3 per cent to 255.6 million litres. However, the value of British sales dropped 5 per cent to $450.9 million.