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New China wine import figures: France and Australia lead the growth in first quarter

decanterchina.com by Sylvia Wu10/05/2016  

Fresh customs figures shows that China’s wine import figures continue to grow in both volume and value during the first three months of 2016. Australian and Chilean wines leaped in volume, while French wines are showing significant growth in average price.

107m litres of bottled wines worth $557m were imported into China during January to March of 2016, showing a 31% growth in volume and 42% growth in value compared to the same period of 2015. The average price of bottled wines entering China is at $5.19 per litre, a 12.3% growth from 2015, according to customs figures.

While the high end of the Chinese market remains sluggish due to the government austerity measures, it is widely reported that the younger and more sophisticated wine drinkers in China are branching out to value-for-money but good-quality wines.

Major online shopping platforms, including Alibaba and JD.com, which have started to import wines directly from overseas producers, have also contributed to the change.

French wines still occupy the biggest share of imported bottled wines in China (see the chart below). With 78% year-on-year increase on value, it is now entering China with an average price of $6.16 per litre, up by 33.8% compared to last year.

As for Australian wines, with 50.9% growth in volume and 50.2% growth in value during the first three months of 2016, China has now ‘overtaken the United Kingdom as the second largest market for Australian wine exports by value’, according to Wine Australia, the official trade body.

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) signed between the two countries last year is set to gradually abolish the import tariff on Australian wines by 2019.

The import of Chilean and Spanish wines continue to grow in both volume and value during the same period.

Among the top 10 source countries of imported wines, notably New Zealand wines with the highest average price ($11.4) is growing in both volume and value, providing more evidence of Chinese drinkers’ increased needs for medium and premium-range wines.