China wine imports down, Australia bucking trend

Up the down escalator

Commentary is floating around on the topic of Chinese wine imports being in decline the first four months of 2017. Is Australia traveling up the down escalator?

An article by Natalie Wang in The Drinks Business on 7 June said China’s wine imports grew 2.9 per cent in volume to “148.4 million litres from January to April, while its import value declined by 7.21 per cent over the same period to US$693.26 million ($921 million)”.

Sparkling wine imports are growing but it’s bulk wine that is ramping up: Wang reported that volume was up 9.33 per cent (49.1 million litres), with value up 39.57 per cent (US$44.5 million).

Bottled wine accounted for just over 90 per cent of imports, but value, at US$757.9 million, was down 4.59 per cent. Wang: “France and Australia still account for the majority, although both experienced contractions in market shares, as noted by the Chinese Trade Association (CTA).”

The figures on percentage share that Wang quotes are from the CTA. France leads with 42.3 per cent of the market. The rest:

Australia (25.5%) US (2.8%) Portugal (0.8%)
Chile (10.4%) New Zealand (1.2%) Germany (0.7%)
Spain (5.9%) Argentina (1%) Georgia (0.7%)
Italy (5.7%) South Africa (0.9%) Canada (0.4%)

The Australian figures for January to March bear out some of the Chinese figures (not all, but that is percentages, tricky buggers).

• Total litres exported January to March 2017: about 24 million litres, up from about 14 million litres in the same period last year
• Total value: $129 million, up from $82 million
• Value per litre: down to $5.38 from $5.70

The Chinese import figures show overall bottled imports down, but Australian export figures show:

• Volume: 179 million litres, up from 117 million litres last year
• Value: $120 million, up from $78 million
• Per litre: $6.70, up from $6.63

China is going well for Australia. Keep everything crossed in the hope that it continues.

Arranged marriage

If ever there were an unsuitable arranged marriage, it’s spirit/beer companies and wine producers. No matter the accountants running the rule and tapping the calculator keys, the final figures (the profit) just don’t seem to come out right.

Gruppo Campari acquired Château de Sancerre last year when it bought the Grand Marnier group in a deal worth a reported €684 million ($1 billion).

Campari has now sold Château de Sancerre in a deal said to be worth €20.5 million.

This means Campari is completely out of still wine production, having already sold its Italian and the Chilean wine businesses.

The buyer is Maison Ackerman, a well-established Loire Valley producer with an extensive portfolio of wines from the region.

Diageo out of wine, Campari out of wine, Kirin almost out of wine… the divorce rate is growing. Who next?


Good to hear that Virgin Wines UK is adding about 150 wines in the £12-£15 ($20-$25) retail bracket. Australian wines are included, but Virgin is into South Africa at the moment.

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