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China’s wine imports lifted by growth in May by Natalie Wang12/07/2022  


China’s wine imports in the first five months of the year continued to dip but its overall decline was lifted by growth recorded in May, while uncertainties loom as cases double in Shanghai again, posing fears of another lockdown.

The country’s overall imports for wine and spirits during the five-month period without exceptions all dropped, as the country’s covid measures in the second quarter of the year put a choke hold on key consumption and trading centers such as Shanghai.

Spirits imports declined by 17.3% in volume and 14.9% in value to US$661.1 million compared with the same period last year, while wine imports dropped by 13.7% in value to US$592.8 million, according to the latest data released by China Association for Imports and Exports of Wine and Spirits (CAWS).

Trailing behind wine is beer, which suffered a more moderate drop of 2.77% in value to US$265.9 million.

However, in May, wine imports are looking up. During the month, the country’s wine imports grew by 12.2% to US$141.8 million for a total of 38 million liters, the first monthly growth recorded so far.

It’s too early to tell if this is a reflection of recovered market demand or a spike caused by global shipping delays. Shanghai, which just came out of a more than two-month lockdown is now experiencing new cases, raising fears of another possible lockdown.

Wine buyers in China (pic: iStock)

France leads bottled wine and Chile leads bulk

For wine imports, France not only leads China’s bottled wine imports but it managed to widen lead, while the country’s former No. 1 wine exporter Australia was almost reduced to oblivion with market share sliding to just 0.5%.

From January to May, France exported a total of US$254.2 million worth of wines to China, which represents 42.8% of China’s total wine imports. This however is a 10.9% drop in value and 23.1% drop in volume, as the CAWS data shows.

Chile managed to buck the downward trend and recorded growth in both volume and value. The South American country exported 64.3 million liters of wines, worth US$155 million to China in the first five months, up 16.08% in volume and 11.95% in value. Its market share also expanded to 26.15%, as a result.

Bottled wines from Chile took up about US$116.1 million, which is about 74% of all Chilean wine exports to China, suggesting that quality Chilean wines are on the rise, as more merchants are turning to Chile as an alternative to replace Australian wines.

That is not to say its bulk wines is not a sizable business for the South American country. It still leads bulk wine imports inside China, taking up close to 72% of all China’s bulk wine import value, as CAWS data shows.

For wines bottled between 2 liters and 10 liters, Australia was originally leading the category, as China’s punitive tariffs only apply to Aussie wines in 2 liters or below. Its lead was overtaken by the US and France based on Jan-May data.

Aside from Chile, American wine exports to China during the period also registered positive growth in value. US wine exports grew by 19.3% to US$20.4 million compared with the same period last year.

Georgian wines continued to enjoy success in the market. Its value grew by 57.3% to US$7.2 million and volume jumped 46.6% to 1.89 million liters.

Australia on the other hand as a result of the punitive tariffs has completely lost its market in China. Its market share dropped from its peak of over 40% to a mere 0.56%, as the CAWS data shows.