Insight – Simplifying wine exports to the UK
Update: The UK Government will remove VI-1 certification for all wine imports from 1 January 2022. The UK Government is intending to facilitate the transhipment of Australian bulk wine from the UK to the EU through the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) light touch certification process. It is anticipated this change will occur from 1 January 2022.
On 25 July 2021, the United Kingdom’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced it will remove the requirement for all wine imports to be accompanied by VI-1 certificates. The UK is implementing this change without a clear start date.
Once in place, this change will simplify exporting wine to the UK. This change is an example of the UK moving away from the EU regulatory framework following the Brexit transition period.
Exporters will still need VI-1 certification for wine exported into the European Union (EU). This includes Australian wine re-exported to the EU through the UK.
The VI-1 certification ensures the wine complies with EU regulations. Exporters need to submit their wine for laboratory testing before shipping.
The planned removal of VI-1 certification simplifies trade and reduces compliance costs for wine exporters. Exporters will no longer need to obtain an estimated 16,000 VI-1 certificates and accompanying lab analyses per year.
The UK was Australia’s most valuable wine market in Jan-July 2021. The market accounted for 25% of the value of Australian wine exports (ABS 2021).
In 2020, Australia was the UK’s third largest supplier of wine (8%/US$359.7 million). France was the largest supplier (31%/US$1.3 billion), followed by Italy (18%/US$809.5 million) (UN Comtrade 2021).
The UK is also a key distribution hub for the wine market.
COVID-19 lockdown measures reduced restaurant patronage in 2020. Total UK wine imports, however, remained steady at US$4.4 billion. The UK Government is making efforts to re-open the hospitality sector. If successful, this will stimulate demand for wine imports in the second half of 2021.
Figure 1: UK wine imports (2017–2020)
Wine Australia has an extensive UK export market guide for Australian wine exporters. This includes information about VI-1 documentation and laboratory analysis.
Austrade has general information about the UK market.
The UK Government also has information on importing wine into the UK.
The Australian Government’s network of Agriculture Counsellors provided information for this article. More information about the Agriculture Counsellor network, including contact details, are available on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website.