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Record Exports For NZ Spirits Industry

The growing international reputation of New Zealand-made spirits helped our exporters secure new markets and achieve record earnings over the past year.

Distilled Spirits Association chief executive Thomas Chin says that despite a tough international trading environment export receipts for the year ending June 30 1999 were a record $31.4 million – up 7.2 per cent on 1998. Export volumes of spirits jumped from 6.9 to 11.7 million litres.

Commerce Minister Max Bradford and Finance Minister Sir William Birch today visited New Zealand Dairy Group’s Anchor Ethanol distillery at Reporoa to meet with spirits industry representatives and discuss a range of issues.

Mr Chin says the industry is a quiet success story with New Zealand-made gin, vodka, whisky, liqueurs and spirits shipped to more than 35 international markets. Premium export brands include Gordon’s Gin, Smirnoff Vodka, Tia Maria liqueur – and Lammerlaw, the only single malt whisky imported into Scotland.

The Distilled Spirits Association is the national trade organisation representing New Zealand’s leading producers and marketers of spirits and liqueurs. Key overseas markets for its members include Australia, Asia and the Pacific. New markets like Jordan, Germany and the Netherlands are being developed.

Mr Chin says the success of the industry is the result of producing high quality products and being internationally competitive.

“We have the potential to achieve even better results if a strong domestic base is fostered through fairer domestic liquor sales legislation and the an excise tax-rate on par with beer and wine.”

“The Government should encourage us, not hinder our success,” Mr Chin says.

Anchor Ethanol is the largest ethanol producer in the world using casein whey (a by-product of the dairy industry) as a feedstock. The Company competes in the international export markets with the industry giants in Brazil, United States and South Africa – almost all of whom enjoy significant subsidies or trade protection.

“Like the domestic market, the international market for spirits is definitely not a level playing field,” says Anchor Ethanol general manager Laurie Brockliss.

Despite this, Anchor Ethanol last year exported more than 10 million litres of alcohol and secured new customers in Thailand, Jordan, Fiji and New Zealand. The operation employs 36 people directly and has a number of subcontractors supplying transport, storage and packaging services.

Traditionally alcohol has been produced using molasses, cane sugar or grain as the raw material. Mr Brockliss says casein whey contains 4 per cent lactose (milk sugar), which provides the sugar – to be broken down by lactose-specific yeasts – into alcohol.

The alcohol is then concentrated to 96 or 100 per cent by distillation processes common to all operators in the ethanol industry. Anchor Ethanol produces a comprehensive range of alcohol grades in terms of strength and purity and can supply products for any alcohol end-use.

The Company, a subsidiary of Hamilton-based New Zealand Dairy Group, built its first ‘whey to ethanol’ plant in 1980 and now owns and operates three plants, which will produce more than 20 million litres of pure ethanol during the current dairy season.

ENDS

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