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China’s top 10 wine importers by volume

With China’s wine imports set to grow, we took a closer look at the country’s top wine importers that are responsible for driving up its numbers.

China is having quite the party at the moment, with the country quaffing US$15.29 billion worth of wines last year, drinking anything from its very own Changyu or Great Wall to Bordeaux, Australia and Chile or some funky orange wines from Georgia.

By 2020, China is projected to surpass the UK to become the world’s second most valuable wine market after the US, according to a report by Vinexpo and IWSR.

Last year, the country imported 638 million litres of wines worth about US$2.364 billion. But who are these bigger players supplying the market?

We take a close look at the top 10 wine importers by volume based on figures compiled from Chinese Customs, with a few lesser-known companies such as and Tenwow that seem poised to take bigger shares in the market.

[Updated:] It’s worthy to note that COFCO Wine & Wine, the state-owned wine importing company was ranked No. 19 on the list with 1.8 million litres for 2016. According to Aline Bao, fine wine purchasing director of the company, the apparent low ranking was due to the fact that COFCO uses a logistics company called C&D for the bulk of their importing in China, which in the Chinese Customs list was discounted as it’s a logistics company. The company claims it has imported about six million litres of wines in 2016 through its own channel and C&D Shanghai.

10. Torres China 

Established by Miguel Torres S.A. in 1997, Torres China later sold a key stake to Baron Philippe de Rothschild in 2017. The distributor has expanded its foothold in China with a presence in eight major cities, selling more than 400 wines from 14 countries including established fine wine brands from Opus One to Tattinger and Henschke.

In 2015, China’s supermarket giant Yonghui signed a partnership with Torres China to source wines directly from the company and sell some of its wines nationwide through its stores in 18 different provinces.

The company imported 2.4 million litres of wine last year, a drop from 2015’s 2.5 million litres.

9. Jinyu

Previously known as Zhejiang Daxiyang Importing Co, Wenzhou-based Jinyu is a wine merchant solely focused on imported wines.

Founded in 2010, the company was then purchased by Jinyu Group in 2012 as its wine importing arm.

Shortly afterwards its wine importing business grew and its market share in China’s imported wine sector grew to take up about 1.3% of the country’s total, according to its website.

The company operates an online e-commerce website called White Hart Castle that sells the company’s own imported wines from Spain, Italy, France, Australia to name a few.

The company’ import volume in 2016 was numbered at 2.5 million litres, a slight increase over 2015’s 2.3 million litres, cementing its place as China’s No. 9 biggest wine importer.

8. Summergate

Founded in 1999, Summergate exclusively represents over 100 brands from 19 countries.

A major player in China’s wine importing business, the company imported 2.6 million litres of wines last year, a slight decline of 7% compared with 2.8 million litres in 2015.

Acquired by Australian liquor giant Woolworth in 2014, the importer handles popular Australian brands such as Penfolds and Wolf Blass. But among its 100 plus brands, Chile’s Casillero del Diablo has key in driving its import volumes.

7. Tenwow

Founded in 1999, Tenwow is a leading food and beverage producer and distributor. It distributes nine main categories of products such as oatmeal, condiments, yellow wine, poultry and fish in addition to wine. Its wine imports in 2016 were 2.8 million litres, a notable growth over 2015’s 1.1 million litres.

Tenwow acquired a 51% share in Nanpu Food Co. Ltd, a major spirits importer in China that distributes Chivas, Hennessy, Martell in addition to wines; including California’s Carlo Rossi.

Nanpu imported 2.3 million litres of wines last year, making it the 11th largest wine importer in China.

6. Panati

Panati Wines (Shanghai) rose to a small measure of fame not through its wine import volumes but for winning a lawsuit against Castel Frères over a transliterated Chinese trademark.

Castel, which is transliterated in Chinese as Kasite, a name that was registered and trademarked by Panati in 2000 for its imported wines. The French company took Panati to court in 2005 opposing the use of the trademark. Surprisingly, Panati won the case and in 2009 the company filed a lawsuit against Castel, claiming RMB 40 million (US$5.8 million) in compensation for unlawful use of its trademarked name. A local court favoured Panati, which prompted Castel to appeal the case to Zhejiang Higher Court but the court upheld the original verdict.

Founded in 1995, Panati imports wines from Spain, the Mediterranean area, Bordeaux, Australia, Chile, Argentina, the US, New Zealand and Spain. The company imported 3 million litres of wines last year, up from 2.3 million litres in 2015.

5. Yangzhou Perfect 

Yangzhou Perfect, a subsidiary of Perfect (China) Co., was responsible for half of South Africa’s exported wines to China after it joined a partnership with South Africa’s Leopard’s Leap to create the ‘L’Huguenot’ wine brand in 2012, according to a report by China’s official news agency Xinhua.

The brand’s range consists of a Shiraz, a Shiraz/Pinotage blend and Chenin Blanc. These are distributed across the 5,000 outlets operated by Perfect (China), a consumer product and health food company.

In 2015, the company expanded its range to also include Akana Wines from Chile. Its total wine import volume in 2016 arrived at 3.4 million litres.

4., a B2B cross-border e-commerce company that was only created in 2014, has seen blistering growth even by Chinese standards.

A company focused on importing wines and beverages, imported 4.3 million litres of wines, making it the country’s fourth largest wine importer by volume, although the majority being lower-end, easy-drinking wines.

The company touts an extensive portfolio selling wines from more than 200 wineries from France, Italy, Germany and Australia, directly to distributors and merchants in China.

In yet another boost, the company attracted RMB 130 million (US$19) series B funding from China Merchants Securities HK Co last year.

3. Yangcheng Food

Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Food, a major condiment producer and food importer, is China’s third largest wine importer by volume.

Famous for producing soy sauce brand ‘Jammy Chai’, the company imports large volume wine sellers such as Blue Nun and Sylvester and a few low-end Bordeaux reds. Its import volume stood at 4.6 million litres last year compared with 3.7 million litres recorded in 2015, a drop in ranking from No. 2 to No. 3.

It also operates a wine logistics company called Guangzhou Wine Allocate and Dispatch Co. Ltd.


2. Changyu 

China’s biggest wine producer Changyu is also a significant wine importer in the country. Last year, the company imported 5.4 million litres of wine, a stunning jump from 2015’s 1.7 million litres, thanks to its aggressive overseas winery acquisitions in France, Spain and most recently in Chile, fuelled by domestic consumers’ demand for imported wines.

After purchasing two wineries in France and Marques del Atrio in Spain in 2015, the company ships about three million bottles of wine from the Spanish winery and one million from France, according to Financial Times. It plans to bulk up its import volume to 20 million bottles within the next few years.

In addition to its existing portfolio, in 2016 it gained exclusive distribution rights for Wolf Blass’ Eaglehawk range in mainland China, although Wolf Blass’ parent company Treasury Wine Estates operates its own importing and distribution network.

1. ASC Fine Wines

Having started its wine importing business in China 21 years ago in 1996, ASC Fine Wines is by far the biggest wine importer in the country by volume, according to figures compiled by Chinese Customs. The company imported six million litres of wines last year, although a 2% decrease over previous year, still retaining its position as the country’s No. 1 volume importer for wine.

In 2009, ASC was purchased by Suntory Group and earlier this year, the company had a major leadership reshuffle with Suntory’s Yoshihiko Shibuya taking over Bruno Baudry. Yet, with no signs of slowing down, the importer is strengthening its on-trade sector and New World portfolio to unlock more market potentials, as its newly appointed COO Simon Wong revealed earlier in Chengdu.

The company distributes over 1,200 wines from more than 100 wineries from 16 countries. Its fast-moving brands such as Brown Brothers and Domaine Barons de Rothschild that owns first growth Château Lafite Rothschild to more accessible brands such as Légende and Saga, are vital in driving its sales growth.

Note: COFCO claims they imported about six million litres of wines in 2016 as well, which would put them on the same par as ASC. The company said it uses a logistics company C&D Shanghai for the bulk of its wine import business in Shanghai. If combining the figures from C&D Shanghai and COFCO’s own channel, it would have been one of the China’s top wine importers by volume.


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