Off-trade sales of New Zealand wine grew 4% by volume and 9% by value in the year to December 24, according to Nielsen, and overall exports to the UK rose 14%.
The country is performing even more strongly at higher price points, with 22% of the £9-£10 market, an increase of 59% on last year, and 12.6% of the over-£10 market, an increase of 55% on last year.
New Zealand’s average bottle price is £6.32, compared to an overall average price of £4.88.
Cox said: “It’s not just the discounted cheaper element of Sauvignon Blanc driving our growth, it’s really fuelled by some nice premium wine sold at premium prices. Even major retailers can and do sell wines at up to and above £10.
“We think the incidence of the slightly cheaper retailer brands and discounted brands is diminishing quite significantly as we have brought demand and supply back into balance.”
Cox said concerns that the 2012 harvest would be very small after bad weather in Marlborough this month were premature – but admitted the vintage may be 10%-20% smaller than 2011’s bumper crop.
“We don’t have a problem with that – it will help with the demand-supply balance,” he said.