Int'l wine producers have high hopes for Chinese market

(Xinhua) 08:31, June 13, 2023

People taste wine during a wine-themed international conference and an expo in Yinchuan, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, June 9, 2023. (Xinhua/Feng Kaihua)

YINCHUAN, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Nowadays, premium wine is often included as part of a stylish and leisurely lifestyle for those who are looking to better enjoy their life. As Chinese wine wowed the world during a just-concluded wine expo in northwest China, more and more international wine producers are looking at the huge market potential of the country.

As the country's largest wine-producing area, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has emerged as a rising star on the global wine map after more than four decades' development. On June 11, this year's International Conference on Grape and Wine Industries, as well as the third China (Ningxia) International Wine Culture and Tourism Expo came to an end in the region.

During its exhibition in Yinchuan, the regional capital, 75 wineries from 16 countries and regions including Germany, France, Chile, Moldova and Spain presented visitors with their new products in a special exhibition area for international wine brands.

"I've no doubt that these fine German wines would delight visitors, also in comparison with other international wines. I would be delighted if it could expand our biliteral trade relations with China in the field of wine," said Cem Ozdemir, minister of Germany's Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Themed "Nature, Innovation, Culture and Ecology" this year, the event offers an unique platform for exploring new growth models for the global wine-making industry and sharing new opportunities for international cooperation.

Representatives of enterprises in the industry from over 30 countries and four international organizations were invited to participate in the expo. According to Mauricio Hurtado, the Chile ambassador to China, China has been one of the biggest importers of Chilean wines. For more than two decades, numerous Chilean companies and brands have established a presence in the Chinese market.

"It is very important for us because the consumption of wine here is growing every year. One of the most important Chilean wineries is here to promote their products because they see that this market is very important for us," said the Chilean official.

People taste wine during a wine-themed international conference and an expo in Yinchuan, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, June 9, 2023. (Xinhua/Feng Kaihua)

More than 1.4 billion people in China have embarked on a new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects, releasing huge potential for consumption, with a total wine import worth 1.44 billion U.S. dollars by China last year alone.

"Every day, nearly 1 million liters of wine are imported into the Chinese market from all over the world, and many well-known enterprises have come to invest in China," said Tang Renjian, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, at the opening ceremony of the event. "China has grown to be one of the most dynamic markets for the global wine industry."

Apart from traditional wine-making powerhouses, some African countries are also aiming high in the booming Chinese market. Wine culture, education and national brand development are the key factors to expanding the presence of South Africa's wine in China, according to Thoko Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, the Republic of South Africa.

"We've seen encouraging growth in the Chinese market of South African wine. We all know that China has emerged as a powerhouse in the global economy, with a rapidly growing middle class and a growing appreciation for wine. This presents a tremendous opportunity for South African wine producers to expand their reach and tap into this vast market," noted Thoko Didiza.

While many are boosting their high expectations for China, more have already come to invest.

Ningxia's long hours of sunshine and its cool and dry climate have both greatly aided the local grape cultivation. The region boasts an unique "terroir," a term used in the wine industry to refer to natural conditions, for making top-class wine products, attracting 228 wineries from home and abroad. Its annual wine output reached 138 million bottles in 2022.

Though a late comer in the wine-making sector compared with members of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), China has once again updated its record of medal wins at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2023, one of the world's largest wine competitions. A total of 274 wines from 14 wine-producing areas in China were awarded medals, a 17 percent increase from the previous year. Ningxia triumphed with about 40 percent of the medals, leading other areas in terms of quality in China.

"The decision was based on the careful investigation on the quality of China wine production areas, and Helan Mountain region was found to be the best," said Hua Min, general manager of Pernod Richard (Ningxia) Winemakers Co., Ltd.

The French-based brand Pernod Ricard built the branch in Ningxia as early as in 2012, with vineyards of 6,000 mu (about 400 hectares) in the region. Workshops for fermentation and bottling were also set up in Ningxia.

"With a good performance of grapes planted here, we mainly produce still wines in the region," Hua said, adding that a high quality will be the common target for all the wineries both in China and France, while the different terroirs of the production areas can make a difference.

China has always been one of the key markets for Pernod Ricard. The company has shown its great confidence and firm determination to develop in the Chinese market by investing and building its own winery in China. The company has also built its whisky plant and reception center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, according to Hua.

"With the gradual post-COVID-19 market recovery and the booming of 'China Chic,' Chinese wines are getting more and more attention. We will continue to improve our wine quality and contribute to fulfilling the domestic industry's goal of 'Chinese Wine, Surprise the World' together with local wineries in China," he added. 

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


Related Stories