In conversation with Treasury Wine Estates CEO Tim Ford | LIVESTREAM
May 16 2023
A few years ago, Australia was the biggest overseas supplier of wine to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Australia's largest winemaker, Treasury Wine Estates (TWE), sold everything from the budget-conscious Rawson’s Retreat to the luxury brand Penfolds to an increasingly wine-interested PRC market that accounted for 30 percent of its profits.
But this all changed in late 2020 when Beijing imposed anti-dumping/subsidy tariffs of up to 212 percent on Australian vintages, part of a host of trade sanctions applied to Australian goods. The tariffs devastated many small companies. Indeed, in 2022, Australian wine sales to the PRC stood at just $12 million, down from $1.25 billion. Increased sales elsewhere amounted to less than one-tenth of the fall to the PRC.
Many thought TWE's new chief executive Tim Ford would be forced to abandon the company’s PRC ambitions. Instead, the company reinvented itself to keep supplying PRC consumers, sourcing from South Africa, the US and France, and investing in the PRC’s own wine industry. Last September, the company launched ‘One by Penfolds’, a new range featuring American and French wine as well as a ‘Made-in-China’ offering from the Ningxia region. Since the tariffs were imposed, TWE’s share price has, in fact, risen by nearly 50 percent.
Polling by the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI) shows that 51 percent of Australians now consider the economic relationship with the PRC is ‘more of an economic risk than an economic opportunity’. In an era when geopolitics threatens commercial transactions with increasing frequency, what can the wine industry’s experience tell Australians about the costs and benefits of economic engagement with the PRC?
UTS:ACRI in partnership with the UTS Business School hosted Tim Ford in this unique opportunity to hear first-hand from one of Australia's leading chief executives on his experiences with the PRC, having just returned from his first visit in three years. He joined Glenda Korporaal, UTS:ACRI Adjunct Industry Fellow and columnist for The Australian, to discuss how the economic links between Australia and the PRC survive amid the headwinds.
Time: 6.00pm - 7.30pm AEST
A transcript of the event is available.
About Tim Ford
Mr Ford is an Australian resident and TWE’s Chief Executive Officer.
Since joining TWE in February 2011, he has held key roles across the business’s global operations, including Director, Global Supply and Managing Director Europe, South East Asia, Middle East and Africa, and Deputy Chief Operating Officer with responsibilities for Asia, Europe and the ANZ regions.
In January 2019 he was appointed Chief Operating Officer with responsibility for TWE’s global operations, and took the helm as Chief Executive Officer on 1 July 2020.
Mr Ford has more than 20 years’ experience in the wine, food and beverages sectors, with a strong track record for disciplined execution of strategy, driving growth, and building high performing and connected teams. Prior to joining TWE, he held senior management roles with National Foods and CUB.
About Glenda Korporaal
Glenda Korporaal is an Adjunct Industry Fellow at the Australia-China Relations Institute, University of Technology Sydney (UTS:ACRI).
Ms Korporaal is a Sydney based journalist with The Australian newspaper specialising in business, financial affairs and international relations. She is a former London, Washington and New York correspondent of The Australian Financial Review (AFR) and was the first woman deputy editor of the AFR (1986-1988).
She has been business editor of The Bulletin magazine, editor of The Australian’s monthly business magazine, The Deal, and associate editor (business) of The Australian.
She has a strong interest in Asia, particularly China, since her first visit to the People's Republic of China (PRC) on a 'farm study tour' in 1978. She was the China correspondent for The Australian in 2018 and 2019. She has lived and worked in Hong Kong (2001-2003) and Singapore (1998-1999).
She has had a strong interest in the Olympics having covered Games in Atlanta (1996), Nagano (1998), Sydney (2000), Athens (2004), Beijing (2008) and London (2012).
She is the author of several books including Making Magic. The Marion Mahony Griffin Story, An Olympic Life (with Kevan Gosper), The Bid. How Australia won the 2000 Games (with Rod McGeoch), The AARNet Story, 20 years of the internet in Australia, and Yankee Dollars. The Story of Australian Investment in the US.
She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and a Master of Arts (Economics) George Washington University, Washington DC.
She was awarded an OAM for her contribution to print journalism in the Australia Day honours of January 2019.