New Zealand Wine (NZW) has released the annual report of New Zealand wine producers for 2023.
The number of New Zealand wine producers has seen a slight decline this year for the first time since 2014, with 739 wineries compared to 744 in 2022. This year also saw the introduction of a new marketing campaign: "Altogether Unique”.
A highlight for the New Zealand wine industry was the new record value of wine exports for the period from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023. This value was 23% higher than the same period in the previous year, reaching approximately NZ$2.4bn (approx. US$1.42bn). The export volume also increased by 19% to nearly 316m liters.
Further growth is expected due to the new Free Trade Agreement with the United Kingdom, which came into effect on May 31, 2023. The UK is the second-largest export market for New Zealand wine, following the United States. Despite this export focus, New Zealand's domestic wine consumption still includes about half of its domestically produced wines.
Economic crisis and legislation
However, the New Zealand wine industry is facing significant challenges. The global economic situation and associated inflation over the past 18 months have led to significant cost increases for producers. Additionally, NZW indicates that a new regulation regarding water usage will further increase operating costs. A lack of water is a major concern for the country during dry years, as many rural areas rely on rainwater tanks rather than a groundwater supply.
Another legislative proposal is causing worries for the New Zealand wine industry: producers may be required to obtain an expensive liquor license to continue offering tastings. According to NZW, this is a threat to cellar door sales, which have become increasingly important due to the rise in wine tourism.
Climate and sustainability
Climate change and extreme weather events also pose significant challenges. For instance, Cyclone Gabrielle in February destroyed approximately 800 hectares of vineyards just before the harvest and caused significant damage to another 300 hectares. The estimated harvest loss due to this event is around 20,00t. Hawke's Bay and Gisborne were particularly hard-hit. Damaged businesses in these areas received a total of around US$236,000 in donations.
To adapt to climate change, New Zealand is investing in research programs to develop new planting materials that can better cope with changing conditions. Sustainability is also a significant concern, with 96% of vineyards now certified by the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ) organisation, founded in 1995. In terms of social sustainability, the gender pay gap is noteworthy. Women in New Zealand's wine industry earn 7.8% less than men, according to NZW. It's a better figure than in some other countries, but efforts are still being made to address this issue. VM