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China imports more spirits than wine in 2021

Official data by CFNA shows that the volume of imported spirits increased significantly from January to May 2021, exceeding that of imported wine. 

According to a report released by the China Chamber of Commerce For Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce And Animal (CFNA), the volume of imported spirits grew significantly from January to May 2021. Amounting to US$780 million, it represents an increase of 117% year-on-year, and overtakes wine to become the largest imported alcoholic beverage category.

During the same period, the volume of spirits continued to rise rapidly with an import volume of 51.75 million litres, up 45% year-on-year.

Brandy is the largest imported spirit category. According to the data released, brandy imports reached a value of US$500 million and a volume of over 17 million litres, increasing 149% and 74% year-on-year respectively. The brandy category alone accounted for more than 60% of the entire spirit import.

Imports of whisky were in second place. The imports between January to May this year were US$150 million and 10 million litres.

Thanks to the contribution of brandy, France is the top source of imported spirits, accounting for 64% of the top ten sources of imports. Together with the UK, both countries combined to supply 80% of the imported spirits in China.

The category of imported wines is picking up in general. Its import volume from January to May this year was 170 million litres, which saw a year-on-year decrease of 1%. The import value was amounted to nearly US$700 million, with an year-on-year increase of 0.2%.

Australian wines, which used to be an important wine import country to China, are affected by the government’s tariff policy and have been severely reducing the volume, causing the wine category to shrink and be surpassed by imported spirits.

The data shows that the country’s wine consumption has expanded as the proportion of bottled imported wine has increased. In 2017, bottled imported wine accounted for 91% of total wine imports. From January to May this year, the proportion has expanded to 94%.

As for the source of imports, the volume of imported wines in various countries has undergone tremendous changes. From January to May 2021, in terms of bottled wine, France’s import volume and import value increased by 23% and 62% year-on-year respectively. The proportion of Chile’s bottled wine imports rose from 10% in 2017 to 17%.

Italian wines are rising rapidly in the Chinese market. The latest data show that the country’s bottled wine surpasses the Spanish wines with a 10% market share. Four years ago, Spain’s bottled wine imports slightly exceeded Italy.

While the bottled wines of Germany, New Zealand, the United States, Argentina and other countries are continuing to rise, it’s clear that Australia, the former market leader in China, has lost its edge in the market, with its import value ranking fifth as compared to other import countries. During the period, the import volume and value of Australian bottled surged 87% and 81% year-on-year, respectively.

According to CFNA, as the implementation of anti-dumping policy has just begun, it will take a while longer for its market influence to be reflected.

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