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Chinese Wine Drinkers like to drink Still

Posted: Tuesday, 12 March 2013 14:18

Chinese Wine Drinkers like to drink Still

Mar 12: In the West and increasingly in India as well, celebrations like weddings, anniversaries and birthdays mean popping Champagne or cheaper bubblies but China has still not developed the palate for bubblies, with barely half a percent consumption attributed to sparkling wines, according to a new study conducted by Vinexpo, which nevertheless predicts 50% growth of the total market in 3 years.

China is the fifth-largest consumer of the world wine market, if one includes Hong Kong as well and its thirst for wine is increasing, according to a report compiled by International Wine & Spirit Research on behalf of Vinexpo, as is traditionally done every 2 years. Chinese drinkers consumed about 160 million (9-liter) cases of wine in 2011. This represented a 142% increase over the sales in 2007. The IWSR study forecasts this growth to continue and increase by 40% over the next three years.

Out of the total consumption 99.5% is said to be red, white or rose, however. Implicitly, only 0.5% of the total consumption is that of sparkling wines including Champagne. To compare, 7% of all the wine consumed in the world in 2011 was sparkling, and the category is set to increase another 9% by 2016. Global consumption of non-sparkling wines, on the other hand, is predicted to increase by just 5% over the same period.

Robert Beynat, CEO of Vinexpo who was in Hong Kong during his Vinexpo promotional visit, knows that the Chinese ignore the sparkling wines right now. He feels that the Chinese consumers have yet to discover sparkling wines such as Champagne, Cava and Prosecco, mainly because of a lack of marketing focus in the mainland. He predicts that the major Champagne brands such as Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Taittinger will lead a breakthrough in coming years. “It starts with Champagne,” he said. “The Chinese will start to drink it as an aperitif first, and then will move on to other sparkling wines.”

Although way ahead of India, China is still far behind the West in terms of per capita consumption. Chinese drinkers consume only 1.4 liters of wine per person (in 2011), far below French drinkers who ranked first by consuming an average of over 53 liters per person in the same year. However, China is also relatively new in the wine culture and the predicted jump of 40% whereas the rest of the world is expected to increase 5 % during the same period, is enormous.

China is now the sixth-largest producer of wines in the world, higher than Australia and behind France, Italy, Spain, U.S. and Argentina. Mr. Beynat said domestic production is the key to growing consumption within China. “We all prefer products from our own countries,” he said. “Once the Chinese vineyards start producing more wine, China will drink more, and then they’ll even import more,”  according to the report in Wall Street Journal.

Interestingly, 15-20% of the estimated imported wine consumption in India constitutes sparkling wines-champagnes followed by the increasing use of Prosecco, Cava and smaller quantities of sparkling wines made by different producers including Bouvet Ladubay, JC Le Roux, Jacobs Creek, Blue Nun, Valdivieso, Bella Vista from different countries and a host of other labels selling small quantities.

Indian sparkling wines do not have as much presence as the world average and at less than 4-5%, they are offered mainly by Sula, Grover Zampa, and Vinsura. Indage Vintners was a brand leader with Marquis da Pompadour but has since gotten into a mess with withering chances of survival. But with Moet Chandon bringing out the domestic version, Chandon during this year, the market is expected to increase with players like Four Seasons and Fratelli already announcing their release. Nine Hills, with bubbles around them from all directions including France and Australia is surely going to expand this market, with Chandon perhaps achieving the top spot in a short time.

Many other smaller producers would also help ensure that India equals the world average of sparkling wine consumption of 7% during the next few years.

Subhash Arora

Tags: Vinexpo, Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Sula, Grover Zampa, Vinsura, Chandon , Fratelli, Nine Hills


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