28 Nov 2013

Govt challenged over research funding for low alcohol wine

7:19 am on 28 November 2013

The latest research programme to gain government funding has left a sour taste in the mouth of the Labour Party's Primary Industry spokesperson.

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The Government has committed more than $8 million through its Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) scheme to a seven-year wine industry project to develop a new range of wines with lower calorie and alcohol levels.

Labour's spokesperson Damien O'Connor says low alcohol products are already on the market. He dismisses the PGP fund as a lolly scramble for the National Party's rural friends.

He says the Auditor General is investigating the PGP scheme and any new funding should be stopped until transparent and public auditing processes are in place.

However, New Zealand Winegrowers chief executive Philip Gregan says what the research programme aims to do is quite different to what's currently available.

He says there are lower alcohol products available, but not the combination of lower alcohol and lower calorie.

Mr Gregan says the focus is on producing the products naturally and it's an important area for research.