Story & photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling GourmetTM
All rights reserved
The irrepressible Travelling Gourmet gets an update on Wine & Spirits trends from Xavier de Eizaguirre, 64, Chairman of VINEXPO…
MENTIONING Vinexpo’s market intelligence study from the International Wine & Spirit Research, approachable Xavier told me, “China is the world’s largest red wine consumer and consumed more than 155 million 9-litre cases or 1.865 billion bottles of red wine in 2013. France is second with nearly 150 million cases. Most of the wine consumed in China is domestic…80%, and the per capita consumption is only 1.5 litres in China. There is a huge potential for growth…the market potential is enormous!”
On the quality of Chinese wine, Xavier commented, “Chinese wine is on its way to international standard but they are not there yet…”
Asia-Pacific is the region to watch
The Asia-Pacific region is number 3 after Europe and America in wine consumption. This is projected to grow by 22.84% to 4 billion bottles of wine in 2017. Between 2008 to 2012, Italy became the world’s largest exporter of wines by volume. In terms of value, France was the largest wine exporter at almost 11 million USD in 2012. The consumption of Sparkling wines between 2008 to 2012 has increased by 5.66%. Also, Still wines sold at retail prices of more than US$10 per bottle rose in the same period by 21.8%. Xavier explained, “People probably drink less, but they drink better.”
In 2012, the Asia-Pacific region was the largest consumer of spirits in the world, consuming 62.76% of the total volume of spirits drunk in the world! Interestingly, Baijiu (literally ‘white spirit’), the spirit mainly drunk in China, which is distilled from sorghum, wheat or rice, accounted for 38% of the total volume of spirits consumed worldwide. The second most popular spirit in the world is Vodka followed by Brandy. Japan is the largest importer of spirits in the Asia-Pacific.
Wine & Spirits in sunny Singapore
The Wine and Spirits Market in Singapore remains vibrant and the total wine consumption in 2013 was 1.02 million 9-litre bottles. From 2008 to 2012, driven by tourism and two casinos plus general growth in on-trade business, sparkling wine consumption increased by 66.5%. Most Singaporeans prefer red wine and 64.3% of the wines drunk are red wines. The top three countries supplying wine to Singapore are Australia, France and Chile. For Spirits, Whisky is the tipple of choice with 103,300 9-litre cases consumed in 2013.
Fake Wines in China
I asked Xavier about Wine Counterfeiting and Forgery in China. He said candidly, ” It is still a serious issue. It has been a problem for a long time. I remember 20 years ago it was almost impossible to get a forger to be convicted. Things are improving. The brand owners are protecting themselves more than before. The Chinese government is helping more than before…you can bring the counterfeiters to trail now.”
Competition is good!
Regarding the competition to French wines from Chile and Argentina, Xavier added, “It is very good…competition. We’re in a business that is growing. As long as the demand grows, there’s room for everybody. It’s helping the development of wine consumption. I think it’s a very positive phenomenon.” Xavier chuckled, “Everyone has to be more creative to keep their market share. Competition forces you to be better and smarter!”
In 2010 and 2011 there has been correction in the Bordeaux en premier wine market. I was interested in Xavier’s view of this. He commented with a wry smile, “There would be a correction because the price level went too much, too high…so much wine was going to China that the rest of the world was frustrated. It is never good to be dependent on a single market…that is China. Wine is to be consumed…and not speculation items!”
A big boulevard of opportunities…
Things are looking good for Wines. As the Chairman of Vinexpo for seven years, forthright Xavier de Eizaguirre puts it, “Asia is the big potential for all wines. The market in Europe is saturated. In Asia, the first market was Japan…the market is close to saturation in Japan. There’s never been in history…a huge potential with the largest population in the world that is China, with disposable income. There’s a big boulevard of opportunities ahead of us!
The main focus of Vinexpo remains Bordeaux and Hong Kong. Vinexpo Asia-Pacific will be in Hong Kong from 27 to 29 May 2014.
In vino veritas…:-)