Survey: Wine Consumption In China Surges

Shanghai Survey Projects Wine Consumption In China To Rise 31.58 Percent By 2013, To Approximately 1.26 Billion Bottles Per Year

Wine stores, like this one in Beijing, are spring up with increasing frequency in China's major cities.

Wine stores, like this one in Beijing, are spring up with increasing frequency in China's major cities.

The growing popularity of grape wine in China is a topic we keep a close eye on. As consumption in China grows, and Chinese buying trends (hint: Bordeaux is still king) in turn have an effect on the global industry at large, it will be important to understand what the Chinese drink, how much of it they do drink, and where they’re buying it. Currently, high-end buying in China centers around Hong Kong, where auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s have seen unprecedented success in the last year. At the mid-range level, however, there are far more local options for budding wine aficionados — from hypermarkets like Carrefour to the growing number of small independent stores. Despite the increasing ubiquity of wine in China, however, per capita consumption remains minuscule.

If the results of a new “International Wine and Spirits Record” survey commissioned by Vinexpo, the world’s leading wine fair, are correct, this is changing quickly. As Shanghai Daily writes, the survey found that China now posts the world’s highest growth in volume of wines consumed, with consumption in China rising some 80% between 2000 and 2004, and experts expecting it to grow a further 32% between 2009-2013. From the article:

In 2008, there were 74.97 million cases of wine, or 900 million bottles, consumed in China.
The country accounted for 68.9 percent of all still light wines consumed in Asia and 3 percent of total world wine consumption in 2008, the survey found, based on latest confirmed sales.

The survey, released by Dominique Debreuil, chairwoman of Vinexpo’s overseas fair scheduled for Hong Kong in May, projected that over five years from 2009 to 2013, China’s wine consumption would increase 31.58 percent.

China would then be consuming 1.26 billion bottles a year, almost equivalent to one bottle annually per capita for the drinking age-population. The survey projected that over a 10-year period from 2004-2013, the volume of wine consumed in China will have soared by 250 percent. In terms of drinking preferences, the survey found red wine takes up 88 percent of annual total sales by volume. As more Chinese women develop a taste for wine, white wine drinking is rising and should grow by 41.7 percent in the five years to 2013.

As with most surveys in China, it pays to take results that base findings mainly on volume with a grain of salt. The important things to really pay attention to are the demographic or geographical findings — in this case, that red wine currently makes up the vast majority of annual sales (since most wine drinkers are currently male) but this number is expected to sink as more female wine fans start to get in on the game. As Chinese wineries are, at the moment, focusing virtually all of their energy on trying to produce world-class red wines (or world-record-breaking bottles of ice wine), we might see a scramble in a few years’ time as they try to cash in on a potential white wine “boom.”

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Food, Wine, & Spirits