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GWS Insider Building on its Shenzhen presence in China, Global Wine & Spirits participated in SIAL Shanghai from May 14 to 16, where approximately 120 wine producers showcased their products to an increasingly interested group of Chinese buyers.

While Chinese food importers and distributors were going about their business at SIAL Shanghai, there was tremendous interest for wine and wine-related products. Every producer we spoke to was very excited about the show, the number of contacts being made and the dynamics of this still relatively small market with huge potential.

China is currently touted as the most dynamic market in the world, with growth rates for imported wines fluctuating between 35% and 120%. Imported wines currently have a market share of between 5% and 10% (depending on the statistical source), and this share is growing, while wine consumption is predicted to hold steady at around 13% for the next 5 years. In fact, it is expected that the China will surpass Russia to become the 8th largest wine market in the world.

Highlights of the Chinese market
While still in its infancy, the Chinese wine market is growing rapidly. Chinese consumers are starting to recognize the health benefits of wine and to more fully understand this complex product. The emergence of an educated middle class will drive growth for better quality imports. The market is presently concentrated in a few big cities: Shanghai is the most active market, with Beijing, Guangdong and Shenzhen showing a similar pattern, albeit it with somewhat smaller overall volumes.

According to Wines Info, the following countries were the leading wine importers to China in order of volume:

1. France (37% share of the import market) 6. USA
2. Australia 7. Germany
3. Italy 8. Argentina
4. Spain 9. Portugal
5. Chile 10. South Africa

An important trend: Imports from Portugal and South Africa are sluggish while Chile and Argentina are gaining market share.

The leading importers/distributors of imported wines (in approximate order) are:

  • 1. ASC Fine Wines
  • 2. PT Asia
  • 3. French Wine Paradox
  • 4. Torres China
  • 5. Summergate
It should also be noted that large food importers such as Gourmedis, specialising in logistics and the wide-scale distribution of imports, occupy an important place in the market. Other major players include Import Listel, Heidsick and Vranken Pommery.

We look forward to updating these fundamentals in the coming weeks and months, as Global Wine & Spirits focuses its efforts on this and other developing markets.