Escalating trade tensions between Australia and China will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on Australia’s wine industry. It is also likely to influence consumer approaches to purchasing wine, with provenance expected to play an even more meaningful role in product choice.

Less than a week after China imposed crippling tariffs of up to 200% on Australian wine, a global alliance of parliamentarians released a video encouraging consumers to support the Australian wine industry in solidarity with Australia. Legislators from countries including Japan, Italy, Germany, the United States and New Zealand urged their citizens to drink Australian wine and take a stance against China’s purported bullying tactics.

The campaign is a bold step in safeguarding the integrity of the wine industry, especially as it is in each country’s interests to advocate for their own local wine industry; moreover, locally-made wine is often a source of national pride. Significantly, the initiative places the spotlight on wine provenance – not in the context of quality or localism, but rather to highlight the social and ethical implications of product origin. The campaign implies that by choosing Australian wine, consumers send a message that they are also supporting international order, trade fairness, and human rights.

This is likely to resonate with consumers, who are increasingly influenced by a brand’s social purpose. Indicative of this, in a survey of Asia-Pacific and Latin American consumers, almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents want brands to actively address global social issues such as racism or sexism,1 while 60% agree that they will stop buying products from a brand whose values don’t align with their own personal beliefs.2

Provenance has always been a key characteristic in wine, as it communicates a range of qualities such as history, production techniques, ingredient source, and authenticity. Diplomatic tensions may add a new dimension to provenance, giving it social and political weight as well. As socially-conscious consumers consider the wider ethical implications of their purchases, it may no longer be possible to avoid politics at the dinner table.

[1,2] GlobalData 2020 Market Pulse Survey, carried out in August 2020 in 12 Asia-Pacific countries and 6 Latin American countries.

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