The chat, organized by the Castilla-La Mancha IPEX and the Castilla-La Mancha Tierra de Viñedos Foundation, reveals the tastes of the Asian people and their visible and invisible markets
The wine expert Dan Siebers, sommelier and director of "Summergate Wines" in Northern China and former importer of wines to that country, has presented a summary of the situation and potential of China in all that related with the wine sector and its commercialization, talking about the two potential markets that exist, all this at Fenavin with a huge crowd attending the lecture.
Despite the fact that he started with good news, indicating that consumption in China continues to grow well above the GDP, he then warned that many importers of wine to the Asian giant have failed after three years of adventure, with only a few standing alone in their battle thanks to their patience, as is the case with Torres or Solís,
Visible and invisible market
In Siebers' opinion there are two clearly differentiated markets in China, a visible market, restaurants and supermarkets, which barely represents 2% of the market; and an invisible one, which represents an important market share, but that is very difficult to penetrate, because it is based on interpersonal relationships: gifts between companies, gifts to individuals, etc.
Ignacio Mezquita, adviser to the Beijing Office also accompanied Siebers in his lecture, along with Javier Vega, director of the IPEX and Marisa Flores, director of the foreign network and of the IPEX's Asia area. Mezquita made it quite clear that consumption will grow about 10% this year in China, while the director of the Castilla-La Mancha IPEX, Javier Vega, highlighted that "in the year 2010 sales of wine in China underwent significant growth, exporting more to China in business volume from Castilla-La Mancha than to the United States, with an important increase in the sale of Bordeaux wine to the Asian giant also being recorded."
Marisa Flores: Our country has recorded the greatest growth of all in bottled wine imports to China
Marisa Flores indicated that according to the figures that have been published referring to the Chinese Border and in that pertaining to imports of bottled wine in 2010, the figure reached 146 million liters, with a 61% growth in comparison with the year 2009. Likewise pointing out that more than 90% of bottled wine is coming in from France, Australia, Italy, Chile and Spain, the same in order of imports. In the particular case of our country, a growth of 105% has been recorded, the greatest among the importer countries, although it has still not increased its market share beyond 6.5%.
Flores also discussed the domestic market, "where it is estimated that 90% of wine that is consumed is produced locally by the great Chinese wine bottlers (who purchase bulk wine from Chile, Spain and other countries), with the wineries Great Wall, Dynasty and Changyu heading the market. These wines take over the low price wine market segment.
The 10% market share that imported bottled wines have is an important segment, with real possibilities for growth, both in value and volume. According to Marisa Flores, this is where the best business possibilities are to be found for both leading importers and newly arrived importers.
The brand is important
Among the aspects to be highlighted, Flores discussed the subject of Brand in detail, just like Mezquita had mentioned earlier on, indicating that the brand is important and that the goal resides in obtaining national recognition, creating a brand for the Chinese market or in taking advantage of international recognition of the brand.
It is possible to find distribution networks in secondary cities, as importers have not reached all of China's cities as yet, as is likewise the case with the organic market niches.
In that referring to the tastes of the Chinese consumer, they again insisted that the Chinese consumer prefers red wine to white wine, although consumption of white wine is increasing among those consumers with medium-high purchasing power. And in that pertaining to wine education, they highlighted another aspect that is greatly considered by the Chinese consumer, the demand that exists for knowledge and appreciation of wines in the shape of courses with diplomas, seminars, wine tasting sessions, wine tourism and education in general in the world of wine.
Labels made to satisfy Chinese tastes
They also made it quite clear that we must adapt to the uses and tastes of the Chinese consumer in that pertaining to the design of the labels, because the colors that are attractive on this market are gold, red, etc. "We must think from the point of view of the Asian consumer and not only from the perspective of the western consumer," Javier Vega said.
The grape varieties that the Chinese like the most are Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot noir, in red wines; and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in white wines.
Very representative companies and outstanding Chinese journalists
The Castilla-La Mancha IPEX has brought in about a hundred Asian buyers to Fenavin. Among the companies that are coming in there are some as representative as ASC Fine Wines, COFCO, Maxford Wines or the TEMPUS group, as added by the director of the Castilla-La Mancha IPEX, who also reminded the audience that "the Chinese market is still one of the most highly valued and consumption of wine in Chinese culture is a sign of health," Javier Vega commented. He also stressed that "20% of total wine consumed in China is imported, which means that Spain has a lot to say in the matter."
Chinese journalists have also come in to the trade fair, representing magazines as important as Food and Wine from Beijing; Wine and Spirits from Shenzhen, Wine from Guangzhou, both in Southern China or China Wine News, which is a digital on-line magazine.
He also reminded the audience that "more than 600 million Chinese have left poverty behind in the last thirty years and, as their income level rises, they have turned into very attractive potential consumers."
There is no doubt that currently the Chinese market is one of the most highly valued, something that was made more than manifest in past editions of FENAVIN. Its peculiar, yet constant approach to a certain type of consumer society and the impressive size of its population, more than 1.3 billion, turns it into a preferential destination for all types of investments.