India, the market for recession proof Austrian wine?

willi.jpgAustrian wine has not experienced as severe a backlash as some other wine markets in the current economic scenario. Indeed, Austrian exports saw a 10% rise in volume while earnings remained stable. “We were anticipating this development because of the big harvest in 2008,” said Willi Klinger, general manager of Austrian Wine Marketing Board. “Also, the trend towards favourably priced wines during the economic crisis had been predicted.”

Germany is Austrian wine’s most important export market. Austrian wine is very popular in German supermarkets and discount stores, especially in the €3 to €6 price range, and even though volumes of bottle wine saw a slight drop in volume (-4-5%), there was a rise in actual value (+1.15 %). Bulk wine exports didn’t fare so well, however, due to difficulties in the international bulk wine market, even though there was an increase of 30% in volume. Nonetheless, there was a 9% rise in quantities and a slight increase in value (+0.5%).
The other two traditional markets for Austrian wine are Switzerland and the US. In Switzerland the slight decline in earnings was offset by the increase in exports, which tapped a broader market with more attractively priced wine. The reverberations of the US economic crisis, however, were felt by Austrian wine exports with a drop in both volume (-9%) and value (-18%) during the first half of 2009. Fortunately for Austria, the picture is looking brighter now with exports rising again.
Generally speaking, Klinger expressed his satisfaction with the outlook for Austrian wine. “For the Austrian wine industry overall, the export figures – considering the economic climate – are very positive.”
But as Austrian Wine trains its sights on new markets in other parts of the world, what of India? India, as has been well documented, is a complex market showing great promise on the one hand with huge potential, and on the other, frustrating in the extreme, with its labyrinthine regulations and high tariffs.
Given the general quality of Austrian wines and their food-friendly characteristics – when paired with Indian cuisine in particular – along with a highly organized wine industry and sophisticated marketing programme, they may well succeed in surmounting these hurdles.
Who knows, we could soon be sipping fresh, crisp and delicious, Gruner Veltliner with our rogan josh and murg mughlai!
— Reva K. Singh

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