AUSTRALIAN bulk wine exports are at a record high as a proportion of all exports because more companies are bottling «in-country».

The share of bulk wine to bottled wine exported is at 48 per cent, compared with of 37 per cent two years ago, Wine Australia’s September wine export approval report said.

The loss to bottled wine exports, now at 51 per cent, was equal to $340 million over the past 12 months, Wine Australia said.

Percentages were based on an 8 per cent lift in the value of bulk wine exports to $342 million in the year to September 30 on the back of a 4 per cent rise in volume to 346 million litres.

Total wine exports fell between 7 per cent in volume and 8 per cent in value in the year to September 30 – to 720 million litres worth $1.93 billion, it said.

«While the volumes are not dramatically different to previous years, the biggest transformation in Australian wine exports has been in the shift from shipping wine in bottles to bulk containers,» the report said.

«The bulk wine share is at a record high … there has been a fundamental change in the way some exporters are shipping wine to key markets – an increasing number are choosing to send lower-priced wine in bulk to bottle in-market rather than in Australia,»it said.

Key drivers of the trend were Australia’s ongoing strong dollar and the popularity of buyer’s own brands, paticularly in Britain.

Australia’s biggest wine producer Accolade Wines, which changed its name from Constellation Wines Australia this year, announced in June it would spend $15.3 million to add a third bottling line to its Accolade Park facility at Avonmouth near Bristol to supply its biggest export market

The facility, Europe’s second-largest bonded warehouse, has been bottling bulk Australian wine under Nottage Hill, Stamp and Crest labels for the UK and European markets since 2009 – a move that has reduced tax and cut about a quarter from freight and production costs for the company.

Bottling «in country» provided a natural hedge for Accolade in the current environment of a strong Australian dollar, the company said.

Australian Vintage, maker of Nepenthe, McGuigan, Yaldara and Tempus Two brands also had moved to package and bottle its lower-priced wines in Britain while the Australia dollar was strong.

French-owned maker of Jacob’s Creek Pernod Ricard began shipping its flagship Australian label in steel containers in July be packaged in Europe, rather than the Barossa, as a way to combat squeezed margins from a higher Australian dollar.

Wine Australia said the higher proportion of bulk wine exports would continue in tandem with a higher $A and would bring down the value of exports.

Meanwhile bottled wine exports fell 11 per cent to $1.6 billion on a 15 per cent fall in volume to 366 million litres with the average value per litre rising 5 per cent to $4.27.

According with Meredith Booth from The Daily Telegraph