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Posted: Saturday, October 03 2009. 12:18

Warning Bells from Chile to France, Oz, Italy

After going into hibernation for a couple of years ProChile, the governmental export promotion agency of Chile in India has been reactivated to sound warning bells to the top wine exporting countries of France, Australia and Italy that Chile plans to be the number two exporter to India in three years, reports Subhash Arora.

In an exclusive interview with delWine, Mr. Nestor Riveros, the newly re-appointed head of the governmental agency in India disclosed that the 4th positioned Chile would increase its market share from the current under 5% to about 20% in 3 years, displacing Australia and Italy; France will remain at the top though with reduced share, says Nestor who was earlier posted in the capital for 5 years before going back to Chile in 2003. He was posted in Vietnam from 2006-09 where he saw the share of Chilean wines jump from mere 1.8% in 2002 with the 7th position to 18% las year. French was the only country ahead though with a share that decline from 68% to 36%.

Chile Wine Exports to Vietnam

COUNTRY

2002

2007

2008

FRANCE

68%

45%

36%

CHILE

2%

13%

18%

AUSTRALIA

9%

14%

13%

SINGAPORE

7%

6%

9%

THE USA

6%

3%

6%

ITALY

3%

4%

5%

OTHER COUNTRIES

6%

14%

13%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lest you think Nestor is too ambitious you must look at the miraculous advances Chilean wines have made in Vietnam since 2002 and more particularly when he was posted there. Since November 2006, the commercial office in Ho Chi Minh City had stepped up its promotional activities in co-ordination with the Embassy and the ProChile headquarters.

There were 8 Chilean brands in 2004. Today there are 50 wineries doing active business! And get this- in the last 2 years alone, Chile increased its exports by 370%, whereas Australia could increase by a 51% with France being flat at only 13% growth. In fact, during the recession period of last year, every country suffered a decrease in their exports to Vietnam; Chile was the only exception with a continuing growth.

Besides increasing volumes, Chilean wines have also been able to get higher prices in Vietnam, claims Nestor. The average price a bottled Chilean wine commanded in 2008 was $ 3.41- ahead of South Africa ($3.17), Australia ($3.01) and the USA ($2.68) though France still commanded the highest avg. price of $3.94. This has been possible by positioning Chilean wines at the high segment of the international premium wines, coupled with the ‘Value for Money’ slogan, says Riveros. Chile has also discouraged the sale of cheap bulk wine and has been focussing on the bottled wine to create a better quality image.

Man of less words and more action, Nestor has already been on the job of achieving the ambitious targets in India. After compiling an Indian wine industry report, he has  already meeting every importer in Delhi and will be soon following up with  importers in Mumbai and elsewhere to discuss and put his plans into action.

I had the opportunity of working with ProChile and Nestor in 2002-03 when we had also helped them organise a major wine tasting and dinner in November 2002, at the Taj Mahal Hotel, which was a roaring success. Such efforts of the Embassy and ProChile had resulted in a virtual boom for their wines, with Chile being a household word for the new wine drinkers and wine connoisseurs alike. Every serious importer jumped in to get some Chilean labels into the portfolio. He plans to push that momentum and move at even faster pace with several promotional programmes already planned, based on the Vietnam model.

While the events will unfold soon, he is clear that the efforts would be to co-operate with the other wine producing countries to expand the market rather than go only for a higher share of the existing small market. He is confident of the medium term success story of the Indian wine industry. ‘When we started our campaign in Ho Chi Minh, people were sometimes even surprised that Chile produced wine. Others were sceptical and said the consumers want only French wines,’ adding ‘we changed all that with our programmes that focussed on the importers, hotels and restaurants, retailers and consumers alike.’

Nestor has a challenging job cut out for him and he is running with blinkers on, trying to duplicate ProChile’s successful model of Vietnam in India. In his endeavour he has the full support of delWine and Indian Wine Academy.

Subhash Arora

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