China’s largest local brand goes globalBy Patrick Schmitt
COFCO is planning to sell globally-sourced wine under its local wine brand Great Wall, as well as add to the group’s international investments with an Australian winery.
Speaking to the drinks business earlier this month, senior manager for COFCO Wines & Spirits, Shu Yu, said that the state-owned conglomerate is planning to release a range of imported wines under the Great Wall label – China’s largest local brand with sales of 10 million cases annually.
“We will announce that Great Wall is not only China, and we will make a French Great Wall, a Chilean Great Wall and an Australian Great Wall,” he said.
Continuing, he commented, “You will probably find these wines in the market next year… Great Wall will use global sourcing for the Chinese domestic market.”
COFCO currently has wineries in both France and Chile, having bought Château de Viaud in Lalande de Pomerol in February 2011 for €10m, and the sizeable Bisquertt Vineyard in Chile at the end of 2010 for US$18m.
While the conglomerate does not have any production facilities in Australia, Yu said this was something COFCO was looking to correct.
“I think our next step will be Australia,” he admitted, suggesting that the Barossa would be the preferred region for a vineyard purchase.
Following that, he said that investing in the US was also planned.
Explaining the strategy, he said that COFCO were looking to tap into the growth of imported wine in China, which is rising at 20% year-on-year according to customs data, alongside a continued rise in domestically-produced wines.
Aiding COFCO in its growing domestic and imported wine enterprise is renowned consultant Michel Rolland.
“Rolland is now consultant for all COFCO’s wines,” Yu commented, “and you will find a winemaker selection by Michel Rolland under the Château Sungod label from Great Wall.”
Founded in 1949, COFCO stands for China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corp. The State-owned group is an importer and exporter of a grain, oil and food in China, as well as a major food manufacturer, wine and spirits producer, hotel operator, real estate owner and insurance provider. It is also the country’s biggest bottler and distributor of Coca Cola.