Maotai's lower US prices irk some

10:02, January 07, 2011      

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One of the country's most prestigious products, Maotai, is at the center of a spirited international debate.

The award-winning white liquor from Guizhou Province, often enjoyed at special occasions, is apparently sold in stores in other countries for about half of what it cost most people in China, according to China News Service.

For example, in Flushing, a New York City neighborhood with a large Chinese immi-grant population, a bottle of Maotai (1,000 ml) was bought for $220 to $230 while a 375 ml bottle went for $65 to $70, the report said.

In China, a 500 ml bottle sells for 1,200 yuan($181).

In fact, as Spring Festival approaches, many Chinese in New York have been hoarding cases of the liquor they intend to send to China as gifts.

The price discrepancy has drawn some strong reaction on Internet forums and microb-logs.

"We have always paid a higher price in China for those made in China products with a foreign label, such as iPad or Nike sports shoes. Now we even have to pay higher prices for our own brand," Lei Jie, 26, a woman who works for an IT company in Beijing, told the Global Times Thursday.

Liu Yuan, vice chairman of Beijing-based China National Association for Liquor and Spirits Circulation, told the Global Times that the lower price in the US was based on the fact there's less demand for the liquor overseas.

"Unlike Maotai's popularity throughout China, there are only a few foreigners who enjoy baijiu. The demand for the type of liquor is so low that the liquor industry has to deliberately lower the price overseas so as to occupy more foreign markets," Liu said, adding that the product also enjoys export rebates, which lower the price overseas.

The price of Maotai has been rising in China as it does before the start of Spring Festival, a time when families all across China get together to celebrate with food and a bottle of white liquor.

Keichow Moutai, one of the Maotai brands, raised the maximum retail price for normal Maotai from 869 yuan ($131.5) to 959 yuan ($144), but more than 30 Maotai franchise stores in Beijing were still running low on supply, Beijing-based First Financial Daily said Tuesday.

Source: Global Times
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