Favourable growing conditions suggest the upcoming New Zealand wine harvest could rival last year's vintage, agricultural lending specialist Rabobank said in its quarterly international wine report.

The bank said New Zealand wine exports are "firmly back in growth" given the higher supply available from the record 2013 vintage.

Wine exports grew by 10.3 per cent in the first 10 months of 2013 while their value grew by 2.9 per cent over the same period.

Exports to Northern Hemisphere markets showed strong growth in 2013, while the United States continued to be the best performing of New Zealand's major markets, Rabobank said.


Close-to-ideal growing conditions have made their presence felt on New Zealand's other main commodities. A record production year is on the cards for the dairy sector and a wet summer has helped the beef and lamb sectors on their way towards recovery from the debilitating drought of early 2013, economists said.

Rabobank said the Australian wine harvest was well under way, and early expectations were for a slightly smaller crop.

Yields in Australia's major inland river regions were tracking at around last year's levels while yields in the more temperate regions across southeast Australia were expected to be a fraction lighter than last year.

Australia is New Zealand's biggest customer, accounting for about 30 per cent of wine exports.

On the international front, Rabobank said the after-effects of the global financial crisis had given the world's winemakers little to celebrate.

"After a long period of buoyancy, UK wine consumption took a severe hit when the storm clouds rolled in back in 2008 and has struggled to regain traction ever since," the bank said.

"But while the absence of growth in many categories has led many global suppliers to reconsider their commitment to the market, for a lucky few the economic climate has created some valuable opportunities to be better engaged with increasingly value-conscious consumers," it said.

Rabobank said there was a strong correlation between real wage growth and still wine consumption in the UK market.

As real wage growth plummeted in late 2008, growth in still wine clearance followed suit and had remained mostly negative ever since.

"Fortunately, signs suggest that the economic environment is ever so gradually improving in the United Kingdom," it said.

Rabobank said it was clear that harvests in the Northern Hemisphere rebounded somewhat last year.

This, coupled with the strong Southern Hemisphere harvest earlier in the year, had allayed concerns over the potential tightening of global wine supplies, it said.