31 Mar 2011

Grape growers warned of more low prices

11:07 am on 31 March 2011

The wine industry is being warned of another season of low prices for grape growers that could put marginal operators out of business.

Marlborough vineyards, which produce about 70% of New Zealand's crop, have just started their annual harvest.

Growers say the quality and quantity of fruit is good. However, they have been thinning vines to minimise the crop so it does not exceed the industry target of about 310,000 tonnes.

New Zealand Wine chief executive Philip Gregan says although that would be almost 50,000 tonnes more than last year, it should not result in a glut.

Mr Gregan says prices for grapes are expected to be around last year's levels, which will make it difficult for some growers.

Industry leader Allan Scott believes production could be as high as 350,000 tonnes and that could drive prices down to uneconomic levels.