Imported wine garnered significantly more attention than local spirits at this year’s China International Wine Fair, according to China Youth Daily.
Chinese visitors taste European wines
The online news source also reported that this was the first year that the number of overseas exhibitors exceeded local standholders at the event, which was held in Guizhou Province in Southwest China.
According to figures released this week by the China Wine Fair committee, almost 700 foreign companies were present at the China International Wine Fair, with a high proportion of French and Italian producers at the exhibition.
While foreign wine producers attracted a large number of buyers and visitors, China Youth Daily said that well-known baijiu exhibitors had to attract the attention of passing visitors by giving away free drink samples or price-off promotions.
Speaking at the fair, Champagne producer Arnaud Robert said he thought that Chinese luxury liquor sales have been affected by the Chinese government policy to crack down on excessive expenditure of party officials.
As a consequence, he said that he thought now is the right time for foreign wine brands to expand their market share.
“Another good sign is that Chinese people are more willing to accept western culture than ever before,” Robert also told reporters from China Youth Daily.
“China Wine Report”, released by China Fortune Character Research institutions in August this year, has shown that the Chinese wine market is worth more than £10 billion, and that the annual wine consumption in China is approximately 1.8 billion litres.
Jerome Mancosu, the head of French Wine Tasting Association believes there is a huge potential for imported wine. “If each Chinese person drank three bottles of wine each year from now on, all the wines in Bordeaux would be sold out”, he said.
In contrast, the Chinese baijiu market is not looking so healthy. According to Jinlin Wang, marketing director of the Guizhou Xiongzheng Baijiu Company, a large number of baijiu companies are unwilling to produce high-end products due to the government policies of limiting luxury spirits consumption. “The lower-end market has more opportunities”, he said to reporters from China Youth Daily.
He is also opposed to the drinking culture in China, which involves repeated and prolonged shooting of small amounts of baijiu – an approach which he said is driving a lot of young people away from local spirits and towards imported wines.
Nevertheless, Jerome Mancosu believes that although wine is becoming more popular in China, baijiu will remain the drink of choice for Chinese people during formal or important occasions.