One of the main themes emerging from the January grower meetings was the need for more information being made available for growers to make decisions about future commitments.
This requirement for information, early in the viticulture year, was the main driver that led to the Australian Wine Industry Voluntary Code of Conduct concluded in the latter part of 2009. It is widely acknowledged the Code has failed to deliver better information leading to better decision making. It is also generally acknowledged that firm price offers are unlikely to be extended, in a general sense, early enough in any given year to influence grape growers’ management programs. There are a multitude of reasons given for the uncertainties regarding grape prices not least of which are the similar uncertainties that determine wine prices.
Complex issues that include the non-existence of a national vineyard register, incoherent bulk wine data, exchange rates, free trade agreements between various trading nations, the impact of climatic events on grape production, markets domination by a relatively small number of major retailers and the fact that so much wine is traded in bulk, internationally, all add to the difficulty of creating certainty to guide decision making.
All of these matters were discussed at our February 27 meeting with the CEOs and MDs of the wineries that purchase the majority of Riverland fruit. There is general acknowledgment that good quality information exists in a number of repositories. These include Wine Australia, Winemakers Federation, ABARES, ABS, PGIBSA, Rabobank, various bulk wine traders including AustWine and Ciatti and a number of other institutions that make pronouncements about supply and demand surges and trends from time-to-time.
Initial discussions have been conducted with Adelaide University Dean of Business, Jerry Adams, who has expressed interest in the concept of developing a suite of indicator tools that will be designed to capture, interrogate, analyse, interpret and present that disparate data in formats that will assist industry stakeholders with enterprise level decision making.
A progress report on these talks will be presented at the Breakfast meetings later at the end of the month.