Harbour Bottling enters new export markets as love for SA wine grows

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By Melissa Keogh

A growing taste for South Australian wine overseas has led to a boost in business and new export markets for an Osborne bottling plant.

Wine export business Harbour Bottling, located near Adelaide’s major shipping container port, began exporting wine to India, the UK and Canada last year, on top of its usual trade to China.

Previously, all its products were exported to China – a market that Harbour Bottling director Wayne Chao says is also continuing its love for SA wine.

“Because of the nature of our clients, 100% of our products went to China, but since last year we started our first export to India and since late last year we are going to the UK and Canada,” he says. “So we are now opening more doors for exporting to different countries.”

AWTE Enterprise is the company behind Harbour Bottling, which provides contract wine bottling, packaging, warehousing and exporting services to the wine industry.

Harbour Bottling processes about 4000 wine bottles an hour.

The bottling plant, the only of its kind in Australia located so close to an export hub, produces about 4000 bottles an hour, equating to an average of 40,000 bottles a day.

The facility has a capacity to fill 600 shipping containers a year, a limit Wayne says is expected to be reached within the next two years, prompting plans for a second production line and a possible relocation of the business in the area.

“Last calendar year we produced more than five million bottles, that’s about 400 containers a year,” he says.

“Our bottling line capacity is about 600 containers (a year) so with the increasing trend of orders, we are about to reach our limit in maybe the next 12–24 months.”

According to Wine Australia’s export statistics from 12 months to September 2018, SA exported 408 million litres of wine, a 7% increase on the previous year.

SA’s wine export value was also up by 15% on the previous year at $1.67 billion. SA’s top export market by value and volume was China, followed by the UK.

Wayne says he believes the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) entered in 2015 has made “quite a bit of difference” to the wine trading market.

“In the past three years our business has been growing by about 30–40% every year. For us that’s a big increase and I think it’s definitely a benefit of the ChAFTA,” he says.

In January this year import tariffs on Australian bottled wines to China were abolished, meaning more wine is expected to make its way to the east Asian country.

Habour Bottling was established in 2017 by four Chinese entrepreneurs to help cater for Chinese demand for Aussie wine. Directors Jason Zhao, Jonathon Li, Simon Hou and Wayne Chao had each pursued different study and career pathways, including winemaking, computer science, media, medical science, real estate, civil engineering and wine exporting, before launching their business venture.

AWTE Enterprise and Harbour Bottling director Wayne Chao.

Together they saw a gap in the market for a “one-stop wine exporting logistics solution”. They were fond of Adelaide’s lifestyle offerings and the state’s world-class wine regions.

“We saw the opportunity in wine exporting. SA has many world-class wine regions that produce a lot of wine,” Wayne says.  “Australian wine has been a growing market in China, especially in the last couple of years. It’s a booming business.”

Harbour Bottling’s major client is Orchid Wine Estate – owned by Jonathon Li and Jason Zhao – which exports about 200 containers a year. Harbour Bottling works with local producers and wine brands from various leading wine regions across SA.

One of Harbour Bottling’s four directors Simon Hou recently stepped away from the business after being elected as an Adelaide City Councillor and taking on an extra workload.

Industry in focus: Trade and Investment

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