Powering the Drive to Market

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark – on Vinexpo Hong Kong and the impact of the show on future wine exports

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark was smiling on the last day of Vinexpo Hong Kong… with good reason. The show had been a massive success for Australia’s wine growers. We asked him how he felt about the event.

It’s been fantastic. I have been talking to as many of our exhibitors as possible – they are the litmus test to me – and the feedback they have been giving me is great. They’ve been busy with quality trade coming through and really strong connections. So that all points to some very positive commercial outcomes for them.

I THINK WE WILL LOOK BACK AT VINEXPO HONG KONG AND SAY “THIS WAS A PIVOTAL MOMENT”.

At the end of the day, our role at Wine Australia is to put on a great event, a great stand, which we think we’ve done. It looked fantastic – a strong presence, a strong statement… make sure they are well looked after and get quality customers through so they can generate commercial leads and follow through on them. The feedback has been extremely positive. There has been a buzz and a common chatter around the halls that Australia has done particularly well this year and really leveraged the Country of Honour status at the show.

The Asian buyers have been able to discover regions they didn’t know existed as well…

Absolutely. This is the key thing for us – these key markets to continue to either disrupt and confuse about what Australian wine is, or to open up new horizons for people. The Australian wine story is rich and it’s deep. It’s many regions. We have the well-known regions, such as the Barossa, Margaret River, McLaren Vale, and the Yarra, but we have 65 regions, with a number of different varieties and styles of wines, and we are continuing to evolve that message and get that understanding around the Australian wine story. It’s very exciting. It’s like unpeeling the onion and finding the new layers to what Australian wines are all about.

Was there a particular goal of coming to this event?

Not as such. You can never tie a particular activity like this to any particular commercial outcomes. These things take time to come to fruition. The fundamental goal of being here was to send a strong message around the importance of this region to Australia. We are grateful for the opportunity to be here. We know that no-one owes us a living. We’ve got to continue to work hard to pursue them, so we wanted to come here en-masse and really have a strong showing, and we have achieved that.

Obviously, the government has been very supportive as well…

Indeed, we have had some additional funding from the government, and that has enabled us to hone in on what we think are the two key growth opportunities for Australian wine exports. China is one and the US as well, and we will be pushing hard into the US market in coming years, too. Obviously, additional funding enables you to do things in a different way and to really have an impact, and we have been able to demonstrate that here over the past few days.

How important has this show been for Australia as a platform to bounce into the next phase?

I think we will look back over the coming few years and see this as a fundamental opportunity to step up and to continue to rise and to nurture the opportunity in China. It has had a head-turning effect, and this was what we wanted. And it’s a bit of a watershed moment, given where we are. It’s a strong signal of intent and preparedness and enthusiasm to engage with the region. I think we will look back at Vinexpo Hong Kong and say “this was a pivotal moment”.


Photo: Andreas Clark, CEO, Wine Australia