ADELAIDE, AAP – Hit by Chinese tariffs, the COVID-19 pandemic and a shortage of skilled workers, the South Australian wine industry responded strongly with increased product and market diversification, a survey of producers has found.

However, the SA Wine Industry Association, which represents both grape growers and winemakers, says continued federal government support is needed to ensure the sector’s markets are safeguarded and to address labour issues.

“While the government has been able to secure new trade deals with the UK, there needs to be continued industry support through these trying times to safeguard the future of markets,” Chief Executive Brian Smedley said.

“Challenges include a shortage of skilled workers, an impact that must be addressed.”

The survey, conducted by corporate advisory group Bentleys SA, included detailed interviews with 116 South Australian businesses.

It found those businesses were looking at the diversification and innovation of their products, as well as targeting new demographics and new markets to overcome the increased domestic competition and the loss of exports to China.

Wine businesses were also increasing investment in innovation and new technology, and upskilling in marketing, e-commerce and social media to reach more customers.

“The industry must continue to change; it is how businesses adapt, evolve and take advantage of the opportunities that will determine future prosperity,” Bentleys SA partner Tim Siebert said.

Mr Smedley said the wine industry had demonstrated strong resilience over many decades.

“We are an industry that will respond to challenges. As a collective, we have invested for the long term,” he said.