"More and more guests and their friends ask for wine for their lunch and dinner", says Marc-Antoine Malia, sales and marketing director at Enoteca, one of the expanding chain wine bars in Shanghai and Beijing. Malia explains further: "Wine is no longer a luxury item for people from other countries, but wine has become a status symbol of the fast-paced Chinese middle class".
Seen in worldwide terms, China is already the number 10 in the sales of wine. Until 2012, China will have reached the 7th place. This is also due to the fact that international producers pay more and more attention to the Chinese market, also because of the economic crises and thus the sales weakness of wines in Europe and the United States".
"Very few markets show the potential that the Chinese have. I am convinced that the wine trade but also the wine industry in China will show two-digit growth rates in the future." says Xavier de Eizaguirre, President of Vinexpo.
The domains Baron de Rothschild, too, are investing, integrated in a joint venture with the Chinese CITIC, in China (we reported). "What is particularly exciting is being part of the development of an exceptional Grand Gru", said Eric de Rothschild in an interview with the Chinese press.
Alain Castel, general director of the French Castel group says: "The big French producers, but in general also all other vintagers cannot afford neglecting the Chinese market". He adds: "In the first months of 2008 and 2009, the growth of the wine industry in China was unbelievable 300 percent." This year, hopes Castel, his company will export 12 million bottles to China.
In retrospect, the increasing wine consumption in China is breathtaking. "In 2007, the mark of 800 million bottles was reached. Prior to that, between 2003 and 2007, the wine market grew by 61 percent. Experts expect an increase of 31 percent between 2009 and 2012. According to surveys, the average consumption of wines by the Chinese is 0.6 liters per capita; in comparison with already 2.9 liters per capita in Hong Kong. The survey shows that red wine has so far been the favorite among the Chinese, however, now also white wines and bubblies are catching up.
"The Chinese have had a long way to come by being brave to try new wines", says Vance Yeang, sommelier of a restaurant in Shanghai, where customers can directly purchase wines and take them home. "The Chinese' preference for Bordeaux wines is decreasing however", says Matthieu Magery, manager of Enoteca and adds: "The Chinese had long relied on the reputation of renowned producers from France. Now they are discovering wines from the new world. It is particularly the labels that appeal to them".
However, the Chinese are not going to leave the business to the rest of the world. They will fight with commitment and power, in order to be competitive in the future, also in terms of quality of their own wines. The Chinese are already now working towards this goal. Despite the still petty quality of Chinese wines, they are ruling over the domestic market with 90 percent. This is also due to the fact that Chinese producers and dealers can resort to imported sales networks.
Another reason and the biggest hurdle when it comes to import of international wines is customs. Fourteen percent alone is the normal import duty rate; on top of that, luxury and wine tax as well as VAT. Logically, this makes wine products from the whole world more expensive than domestic wines. Furthermore, international wine associations have to accept high marketing costs in order to convince businesses and consumers in China. If these hurdles remain, China will still be ruled mainly by Chinese wines in the future. (aw.yoopress)