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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Demand for Australian wine soars as nation's tastes change (2)

By Tania Lee (China Daily)

13:43, December 12, 2011

According to data from the Customs, China is on track to importing 26 million cases of wine by the year's end, a 60 percent growth compared with last year's figure of 16 million.

Australia takes a 15 percent slice of the market, followed by Italy, Spain, Chile and the US. Chinese people's increasingly sophisticated and diversified thirst for imported spirits and wines is said to be driving this growth.

Last year, Jacob's Creek, Australia's top wine brand in China, experienced a 42 percent increase in sales assisted by the launch of its Winemarker Series and tailored marketing approach. "We have become one of the most active imported wine players in the market," said Jessie Lu of Pernod Ricard, the label's brand manager in China.

Brands such as Jacob's Creek are increasingly looking to China, which accounts for about 6 percent of volume exports from Australia and 10 percent by value.

Businessmen and officials are the biggest wine buyers.

"The second important group is made up of young white-collar workers, who are increasing in numbers very quickly in China's major cities. They are spending their own money and drinking wine with their friends because they enjoy it, and Australian wine is often the preferred choice," said Thompson.

Twenty-nine year old Qi Qinghua, an investment consultant in Beijing, said she often preferred Australian wine with her dinner.

"I love a good Riesling from Margaret River (in Western Australia) because of its crispness and fruitiness. I've also been there and like their varieties," said Qi.

Despite the boom in imported wines, Australian wineries have not indicated they will actively seek to boost sales volumes to China.

Wine Australia said the best measure of success for Australian wine in China isn't based on market share.

"There is no point increasing volume for volume's sake or trying to achieve an extra five percent market share if it erodes the position and value of Australian wines," said Lucy Anderson, director of Wine Australia's Asia branch in Hong Kong.

"We need to ensure consumers are confident to seek out Australian wines because they trust them, they enjoy the taste and they are proud of the association back to the brand, region and country," she added.

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