China Tops US As Bordeaux’s Top Export Market Outside Of Europe

China Imported 13.7 Million Liters Of Wine From Region Last Year, Surpassing US By Volume

As the number of female wine drinkers in China increases, wine exporters expect to see a surge in interest in white wine there (Photo courtesy Telegraph UK)

As the number of female wine drinkers in China increases, wine exporters expect to see a surge in interest in white wine there (Photo courtesy Telegraph UK)

Amid one of the worst years for the Bordeaux wine industry in recent history, which saw exports down 14% by volume and more than 20% in value and American and British buyers discouraged by the global financial crisis and a strong euro, in 2009 China surpassed the United States to become the region’s largest export market outside of Europe by volume. The Chinese wine market — which Jing Daily regularly covers — is expected to continue to grow briskly, particularly as incomes continue to grow in smaller cities and more sophisticated wine buffs in the country’s cosmopolitan coastal cities buy more — and more expensive — wine for personal consumption. By 2013, according to a recent survey, Chinese drinkers will consume around 1.26 billion bottles per year, much of it — unless the trend changes drastically in the next three years — red wine.

This is definitely good news for the Bordeaux wine industry, which has benefited greatly from the dominance of French Bordeaux in the imported red wine market in China and looks to continue to do so despite headway made in the market in recent years by Australian, Chilean and American wines. As the Telegraph points out, however, it will take time for volume and value to catch up with one another in the Chinese market. Though the country imported more Bordeaux than both the US and Japan last year, American wine lovers consumed more mid- and higher-end bottles, indicating that most of the Bordeaux sent to China in 2009 was destined for hypermarkets like Carrefour or METRO.

From the Telegraph:

China bought 13.7 million litres for 74 million euros (£67 million), overtaking the United States, which took 11.6 million litres for 139 million euros. Japan came third, with the same volume as the United States.

Hong Kong is counted as a separate market, where 4.2 million litres were sold for 109 million euros.

“The rise of China is undeniable and we expect that market to move up the value chain just as has happened in Japan,” said Bertrand Carles, a wine trader for the Ginestet group.

As Carles said, observers expect the gap between value and volume to close in coming years as consumers become pickier and wine education increases in major urban centers. This will be great for wine exporters on the whole, but might take some of the wind out of the sails of the Lafites and Petruses of the world. From Expatica:

“The wine boom in China started three years ago and grows each year at an impressive rate,” wine merchant Jean Pierre Rousseau, Managing Director of Diva, told AFP. “Before that it was Lafite, Lafite, Lafite. Now they buy petits chateaux, crus bourgeois and grands crus in volume.”

The Chinese market is expanding so rapidly that everyone is getting in on the act.


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