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Winemaking is equally a science and an art. Wine drinking results in inspired thinking. Although wine is not a traditional beverage, China's consumers are increasingly open to new tastes and experiences from the Old World and New World wineries.
This newsletter is designed to keep both, winemakers from all over the world and wine consumers from China and the Asia Pacific, up to date with the latest developments and provide you with useful information about the TopWine China Exhibition and Conference.
Wine imports boom in China
Sales are predicted to top 800 billion yuan in 2030
In 2011 wine import volume in China totalled 360,000 kiloliters and $1.398 billion, equalling an average price of $3.87 per liter, according to customs statistics. Bottled wine import amounted to 240,000 kiloliters and $1.273 billion, an average price of $5.42 per liter. Loose-packed wine averaged $1.02 per liter with a total volume of 120,000 kiloliters and $120 million in imports.
Wine consumption is expected to dominate daily life in China in 20 years as public purchasing power increases and more attention is paid to health care. Sales are predicted to top 800 billion yuan in 2030, half of which will be imported. The average annual growth of wine import from 2005 to 2011 hit 31.5 percent, presenting a huge potential market demand.
Domestic wine supply has been inadequate so far with no solutions in sight. China produced 1.157 million kiloliters in 2011, up 6.25 percent from the previous year, but still needs over 200,000 kiloliters to meet demand.
Chinese wine market still reliant on 'business purchases'
Over 60% of wine purchases are made by the high-spending one-third of the wine-drinking population
Chinese consumers drinking wine as an everyday social drink are still only a small part of the market, research has found.
In its two-year 'China Portraits' study of over 3000 Chinese wine drinkers who drink imported wine at least twice a year, market analyst Wine Intelligence says over 60% of wine purchases are made by the high-spending one-third of the wine-drinking population. The country's wine market is 'heavily reliant' on purchases made as part of a 'business obligation' by a group dubbed 'Prestige-seeking traditionalists'. These make up 22% of the wine drinking population but account for 41% of spend, Wine Intelligence says.
'These individuals are typically purchasing top end Bordeaux and Burgundy for business dinners and gifts, but are unlikely to venture beyond prestige wines to buy more everyday brands for their own consumption.'
Another high-spending group, 'Adventurous connoisseurs', make up 9% of the wine-drinking population but account for 21% of total spend. This group has a far wider repertoire than other high-spenders, and is willing to explore the New World and other regions.
The two groups between them account for 62% of wine spend in China. Two other segments - dubbed 'Social Newbies' and 'Casual-at-Homers' - account for more than half the wine-drinking population but only a third of sales by volume. These groups are younger, drink wine regularly and tend to shop in supermarkets such as Carrefour and Walmart, or discount supermarkets such as Lianhua, Vanguard and Family-Mart.
They are adventurous, the researchers say, and are more likely to try New World regions such as Chile than other groups. They have no set buying pattern and respond to a variety of 'choice cues': quality indicators such as 'Reserve' or 'chateau', varietal, country of origin and brand. The long-term health of the Chinese wine market rests on its ability to engage more of these consumers - groups which tend to dominate wine sales in more mature markets, Wine Intelligence says.
'Wine as an everyday social drink is still a relatively small part of this market,' Maria Troein, the report's author, said. According to statisticians IWSR (International Wine and Spirit Research), the Chinese drank 155.8 nine-litre cases of wine in 2011, of which 17.4% were imported and 82.6% produced domestically. In 1990, the total consumption was 11.9m cases, of which 99.8% were produced domestically.
Wine Intelligence estimates that China currently has approximately 19m drinkers of imported wine, a figure arrived at, it says, 'by calculating the number of consumers likely to be exposed to imported wine (adults aged 18-50, live in urban areas, upper middle class), and then tracking penetration of imported wine drinking among this population.'
Fake Chateau Lafite wine
seized in Shanghai
Police arrested six people and seized more than 4,000 bottles
Police in Shanghai's Fengxian district have broken a counterfeit ring that produced and sold fake Chateau Lafite Rothschild, one of the most popular wines in China. Already on April 5, police arrested six people and seized more than 4,000 bottles of counterfeit wine after receiving a tip.
Police also found a packing machine, dozens of wooden packing boxes, and hundreds of brand labels and bottle caps. The fake Chateau Lafite wine was priced at 6,000 to 7,000 yuan per bottle, while the actual cost was only 80 yuan.
Meanwhile, 1,678 bottles of fake Chateau Lafite and 684 bottles of Margaux were found in another two underground factories in Fengxian district and Minhang district respectively.
One of the suspects, surnamed Lei, told police that they started to make fake wine in 2010. He and his team bought bottled wines without labels from Hebei and Shandong provinces and put on fake Lafite labels in his company. The wines were sent to East China's Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.
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