Wine Australia bullish on screwcaps in China

Wine Australia’s marketing manager believes that the acceptance of screwcaps is increasing in China, particularly at lower price points, helped by the growing number of imports of Australian wine into the country.

Despite rising recognition of screwcap among Chinese consumers, natural cork is still the preferred wine closure method in the country, based on a report by Wine Intelligence

Among the respondents asked by the research company in China, 61% of them prefer buying wines with natural cork, while 32% rejected screwcap, making it the most rejected closure of all kinds across all markets, even higher than synthetic corks, according to the report. 

However, Stuart Barclay, general marketing manager of Wine Australia, believes that a growing number of consumers in China are aware of the benefits of screwcap especially since Australian wines, mostly sealed under screwcap, have become the second most-imported wine category in the country, after France. China has already become Australia’s most valuable export market, thanks to the two countries’ Free Trade Agreement.

During the year ended on September 2017, Australia exported AU$739 million worth of wines to mainland China, representing a 56% increase over last year. Asked about Australia’s bulk wine exports to China, the executive said 94% of the value of exports to China consists of bottled wines, “so bulk wine is a very small share of our exports”. Even with anticipated reduced tariff to 4% next year, the sector is expected to remain small, he added.

“Chinese consumers are being educated on the benefits of a screwcap, which have been adopted to ensure Australian wines are the very best quality wines available in the China market,” he said.

“Australian wineries are proud of their innovation in terms of delivering wines to China that reflect the very best of Australia, appeal to the Chinese palate and are perfect for every occasion from drinking a glass of wine at night to a very special gift.”

“This is partly driven by the robust nature of Wine Australia’s regulatory and compliance power ensuring that all wines exported from Australia are 100% compliant to the labelling of the wine. Wine Australia is committed to ensure that we use our government authority to ensure that the Chinese consumers have faith in our premium Australian wines, where the wines are from and what is in the bottle,” he added.

Earlier this year, the Australian federal government approved a AU$50 million package to further bolster wine exports and tourism, and granted Wine Australia the authority to allocate the money.

China, Australia’s biggest wine export market by value, has already received early investments, Barclay revealed. Looking ahead, the trade organisation is expecting to pump more resources in the Vinexpo Hong Kong in May next year, where Australia has been named country of honour. Next year, it will also roll out its annual China Roadshow in June.

One Response to “Wine Australia bullish on screwcaps in China”

  1. Josephine Poon says:

    Here are some closure market insights in China to share.

    #1 Chinese wine consumers’ preferences towards cork stopper is shown across the board on every wine market segment
    Your article quoted Mr. Stuart Barclay, general marketing manager of Wine Australia whom mentioned “…the acceptance of screwcaps is increasing in China, particularly at lower price points…”. With all due respect to Stuart, his point of view seems contradicting with the findings of our another market survey in China this year.

    This study has researched the list of top 100 best-selling wines in terms of 2016 sales revenues in hypermarket chains* provided by the global performance management company Nielsen. It was found that 95 out of these 100 wines used cork stopper as closure. The study was completed in May 2017. (* Data were collected from the hypermarkets in 24 major cities in China. Hypermarket is defined as a chain store with sales area generally ≥6,000 square meters and 20 checkout counters or more.)

    Among the top 100 wines, nine were produced by Australian wineries. It is worth noticing that eight out of them included in this research used high-end cork stoppers.

    #2 The gap between Chinese wine consumers’ preferences towards cork stopper vs screwcap is much bigger than what the Wine Intelligence report suggested
    In July 2017, APCOR has commissioned CTR Market Research to carry out a survey among Chinese wine consumers. Aiming at shedding light on the trends of perceptions and consumption behaviors on wine and closure, this survey interviewed 2,152 respondents aged between 18 and 64 who reside in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu online in July 2017. This is the continuation of a similar survey which was conducted in 2014.

    The findings show natural cork stopper is present in every parameter including consumers’ awareness, their closure preference when buying wines as well as the perceived benefits to wine quality. The performance of cork stopper in the 2017 survey not just edges out other closure types including screw cap and plastic stopper with big margins, but also shows improvements against its 2014 performance which were already remarkable.

    Highlights of the key findings of this 2017 wine consumer survey are as follows:
     96.8% of respondents believe natural cork stopper is beneficial to wine quality and 95.6% of respondents believe cork closure is an effective seal.
     The awareness towards natural cork stopper is 94.3% (89.3% in 2014).
     85.3% of respondents said they would prefer wines with natural cork as closure when purchasing wines (84.0% in 2014).

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