NZ wijn

Nieuw Zeelandse wijn: een prijsdilemma

Wijnproductie uit Nieuw Zeeland omvat 3 procent van de wereldwijde wijnproductie. Dat is geen enorm hoge productie, toch word er meer wijn gemaakt dan men binnenlands kan consumeren. Door de recessie van de laatste jaren exporteerden veel Nieuw Zeelandse producenten minder naar het buitenland. Hierdoor kwam meer wijn op de binnenlandse markt en voor lagere prijzen dan normaal. Consumenten raken hierdoor verwend en verwachten nu altijd kwaliteitswijn voor weinig geld. En dat is niet te doen, zo betoogt Nicole Belsham van winery Murdoch James uit Martinborough in het onderstaande artikel.

How much does it costs to make a bottle of wine? Not a ‘special occasion’ wine. Not a BYO BBQ special either. But let’s say a ‘Thursday night bottle of wine’.

As a result of over production in recent vintages, and global recession drying up export markets, the New Zealand wine consumer has enjoyed paying very low prices for very good wine. Out of increasing financial pressure producers have dumped wine on the market, supplying wine at a price the consumer is willing to pay – and then trying to work backwards from that. We can find ‘known’ producers on the supermarket shelf for well under $10 a bottle. But what a lot of consumers don’t realise is that the cost of producing that $6.99 bottle has been increasing, and the reality for the New Zealand wine industry is that this equation cannot be sustained. Especially if we want to hold on to any diversity that we have to offer.

Let’s imagine for a moment that we are a wine producer. For a $10 retail bottle of wine, take $1.11 off in GST (soon to become $1.30) and take off a very low retailer margin of say, 5% (A retail margin of 30% would not be unreasonable for an independent). Then subtract $2.00 for excise and alcohol levies. Now remove the cost of bottle, capsule, label, packaging, warehousing and freight – about another $2.50 all up.
So let’s say we have $3.50 left to make our wine. Now to the nitty-gritty:


How good do we expect this wine to be? Regardless of whether our wine is hand-picked or machine harvested, minimum wage has gone up, and we all pay more in diesel and petrol costs. We also need to consider basic Vineyard costs. There are mortgages, leases, and increasing interest rates, as well as contract wages and salaries. Whether we produce 600 or 60,000 cases of wine a year, we still need (or at least paid access to) basic tools, tractor and sprays. We will likely absorb costs of sustainability, council resource consents and general maintenance of our plants, land and equipment. We bill in the cost of processing, fermenting, and storage of the wine –easily adding a dollar or three. We may choose to sacrifice significant quality here – to cut down on cost.

Once we have made the wine – how we will get punters to buy ours and not our competitors? We could pay the $100 or so fees to enter wine awards and magazine tastings, and we could pay the $1000 or so fees to and national and international trade shows. Hopefully a distributor will fall in love with our wine and sell it all on our behalf. Or, we could take our wine all around New Zealand ourselves in a back-pack, showing it to retailers and restaurants. Surely people will love it and want to buy lots of cases to sell to their customers and clients – as long as the price is right.
We’re a business. We want to make a profit out of all of this – can we achieve all of the above for less than $3.50 per 750ml of wine?


This is a price that wine producers – especially ones that don’t enjoy large economies of scale – cannot sustain. Many producers, literally afraid to put prices up to cover increasing costs of production but lose market sales, have gone out of business. Valued brands have lost value, and we see larger operations buying the land and taking over the market – filling the gap of diversity with a lot of wine that ends up tasting the same (in my opinion).
We make less than 3% of the world’s wine here, so it would be great if we can hold onto some character and diversity. Several years ago, New Zealand wine enjoyed the highest average retail prices of any wine-producing country. Growers saw that 3% of the world’s wine, and thought demand was limitless, resulting in an unrestrained planting of vineyards at a massive rate. Consequently, the home market is full.

For a local-to-Wellington mid-sized wine producer, the basic cost for a hand-harvested, handmade individual bottle – before distributor and retail margin, before excise and taxes – can easily begin at $8.00 a bottle. Do you enjoy this wine? Do you want to enjoy more rather than less? What is that Thursday night bottle worth to you? $10? $20? $30?

Nicola Belsham


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