Australian wine is underperforming the off-trade wine category for the first time in several years.
Nielsen figures for the year to March 23 show Australian wine sales still in growth, but with a rapid slowdown since the end of last year.
Sales of Australian wine grew 4% over the period, but the total for 2007 was signifcantly higher.
Figures from the last five years of the OLN Wine Report show Australia consistently growing ahead of the market and pulling away from its rivals.
But now competitor countries are beginning to reel Australia in. In the year to March, overall wine sales in the take-home market were ahead by 6.3%, with Chile, the US and New Zealand all making dramatic gains on the number one country.
Nielsen wine analyst Stewart Blunt said it was true Australia had slowed down but
he wasn't too surprised.
"Australia has reached just over 22% of the total market, so there's a limit in a sense to how far it can go.
"Australia has not been too active in rosé, which has been in big growth and which has allowed the USA to grow.
"There's been a lot of promotional activity behind Chile in recent months and New Zealand has been quite active.
"You've also got to consider that a lot of people have come into the market over the years with Australia and stayed loyal, but are now maybe just stretching themselves a bit into other countries."
Blunt said he didn't think Australian producers would be too worried by the switch in its fortunes.
"Ultimately, the UK isn't the only market it supplies and it does have some supply issues. There are other faster growing markets and they are probably getting a bit more attention as they develop."
Australia remains number one in value and volume in the off-trade.
The US has overtaken France to take the second spot in volume, but not in value.
Value sales increase
MAT to May
Australia GB off-trade wine
2008 +4 +6
2007* +7 +4
2006 +4 +3
2005 +8 +5
2004 +7 +6
Source: OLN/Nielsen Wine Reports 2004-2007
* 2007 figure is year to March