Wine producers travel to China seeking a new market

A contingent of international wine makers are in China this week hoping to seize a piece of the market pie from one of the fastest growing wine segments in the world.

The Wine China Exhibition in Beijing hosts wine makers and exhibitors from around the world between April 17 and April 19, who will be scouting Chinese agents to promote their wine brands in a market that has seen explosive growth in connection with the country's rising affluence.

Though last year's show drew a modest 5,000 visitors, the show is in its infancy at four years old.

Exhibitors this year include representatives from Spain, Chile, France, Australia, Portugal, the US, Germany and Canada.

According to statistics provided by the expo and gleaned from China Customs, the annual growth rate of imported wine is 30 percent.

Meanwhile, an International Wine and Spirits Research report found that the Chinese market had expanded by 100 percent in the years between 2005 and 2009 and forecasts that it will continue to expand by around 20 percent until 2014.

With a steady GDP growth rate of eight to 10 percent and a population of 1.3 billion people, China has stepped into one of the 10 largest wine consumption markets in the world, drawing the industry eye eastward.

Earlier this year, the equivalent of the French wine bible, Revue Du Vin de France published by The Marie Claire group, announced plans to launch a monthly Chinese-language edition this year.

Its publisher Jean-Paul Lubot told reporters in January that the wine market in China was undergoing "a real explosion" and that Revue du Vin wanted to be part of the action.

Meanwhile, at France's largest wine competition Challenge International du Vin this month, a record number of Chinese wine tasters lent their palates to the show and six Chinese wines vied for medals.

According to the Bordeaux Wine Council, China and Hong Kong make up the biggest export clients for Bordeaux in value terms, with combined market sales at €333 million ($430 million).

That's corroborated by a report from the French trade commission Ubifrance, which found that 50 percent of all wine bottles consumed in China are French.

For more info on the expo, visit http://www.winechinaexhibition.com/en/ .

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