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TopWine China Newsletter
Issue: 54               
8 / 2017
China's top 10 imported wines by country
 

With China's middle class rising fast, the demand for imported wines is set to see rapid growth within the next few years. But what are the wines Chinese drinkers are looking to buy, and which countries are responsible for China's main supplies of imported wines? The leading European drinks trade publication 'The Drinks Business' recently published a ranking of China's top 10 wine importing countries.

China, which is projected to become the world's second most valuable wine market by 2020, has a huge appetite for imported wines that has expanded outside the comfort zones of France to lesser known Georgian and South Africa.

By 2020, the country is expected to consume 94 million cases, representing 72% of worldwide wine growth. The share of domestic wines in the mainland market has gradually dwindled in face of growing interest in imported wines, whose current market share is tallied at around 30%.

In the first half of the year, the country imported 254 million litres of bottled wines worth about US$1.146 billion, representing a 13.9% increase in volume and a 3.34% increase in value over the same period last year.

Below you see the top 10 sources for China's imported wines by volume and value in the first half of 2017, as well as comparisons with 2016.

10. Portugal

Volume: 3.652 million litres / Value: US$9.774 million / Average bottled wine price: US$2.68 per litre


Portugal remains China's 10th biggest source for bottled wine imports, taking up less than 1% of market share.

Compared with the same period last year, China's imported Portuguese wines increased in both volume and value over last year's 3.16 million litres and US$9.28 million.

9. Argentina

Volume: 2.547 million litres / Value: US$10.44 million / Average bottled wine price: US$4.1 per litre


Unlike its neighbour Chile, Argentina struggles with cornering a bigger market share in China. With its landscape stretching more than 4,000 kilometres from north to south, the country is renowned for its Malbec and its aromatic white wine Torrontés, most famously made from high-altitude vineyards in Cafayate, Salta.

Compared with the same period last year, Argentina's ranking dropped from last year's No. 8 to No. 9, as both its volume and value decreased slightly - from 2.707 million litres worth US$11.178 million.

8. South Africa

Volume: 4.072 million litres / Value: US$11.842 million / Average bottled wine price: US$2.91 per litre


In the first half of the year, South African wines shipped to China grew from last year's 3.715 million litres to more than 4 million litres. Its import value also slightly rose from last year's US$11.755 million to US$11.842 million. Despite the increases, its overall ranking dropped one spot to No. 8 this year.

The African country's wines are slowing growing in popularity, thanks to its wine trade association Wines of South Africa, through which it continues to roll out education and marketing campaigns across different cities on the mainland.

7. New Zealand

Volume: 1.261 million litres / Value: US$12.393 million / Average bottled wine price: US$9.83 per litre


New Zealand's ranking surprisingly climbed two spots to No. 7 in the first half of the year with 1.261 million litres of wine worth about US$12.393 million exported to China.
 
The boost in ranking in part is due to its increase in import value as its average bottled wine price remains the highest among all countries.

6. USA

Volume: 4.866 million litres / Value: US$31.235 million / Average bottled wine price: US$6.42 per litre


The US's ranking remained the same as last year, but its import value rose notably from last year's US$24.427 million to this year's US$31.235 million, largely thanks to an increase in its average price from US$4.87 to US$6.42.
 
Its average bottled wine price increase was 31.8%, making it the second highest after New Zealand.

5. Italy

Volume: 14.962 million litres / Value: US$67.368 million / Average bottled wine price: US$4.5 per litre


In recent years, Italy has stepped up its push into China's wine market with its trade organisation Vinitaly and its Prime Minister making a strong pledge to drive Italian wine sales on China's online retail marketplace, Tmall.com.
 
From January to June, the country's Italian wine import value has grown from US$56.998 million to US$67.368 million over the same period last year.

4. Spain  

Volume: 33.24 million litres / Value: US$71.426 million / Average bottled wine price: US$ 2.15 per litre


From Tempranillo and Garnacha to Griciano, Spanish wines have always been among Chinese wine drinkers' favourite for their masculinity, longevity and slightly more high-octane style.
 
Compared with the first half of 2016, China's Spanish wine imports actually dipped in both volume and value although its ranking remained the same. Last year from January to June, the country imported 36.492 million litres of Spanish wines worth about US$74.638 million.

3. Chile

Volume: 28.593 million litres / Value: US$95.415 million / Average bottled wine price: US$3.34 per litre


Thanks to a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries, the amount of Chilean wines shipped to China has been increasing every year.
 
In 2016, China surpassed the US to become the South American country's most valuable export market with 142.5 million litres of wines worth about US$251.47 million arrived on Chinese shores.
 
The country's ranking remained the same as last year.

2. Australia

Volume: 46.095 million litres / Value: US$283.229 million / Average bottled wine price: US$6.14 per litre 


The implementation of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement at the end of 2015 has given a huge boost to Australian wines.
 
In 2016, China surpassed the UK to become Australia's most valuable export market with value sales up by an impressive 40% and a further 45% up in volume. Its Shiraz-based wines are among consumers' favorites.
 
It's the second biggest source for imported wines in China, accounting for more than 20% of the market share.

1. France

Volume: 98.237 million litres / Value: US$485.1 million / Average bottled wine price: US$4.97 per litre


France still reigns supreme in China's wine market, taking up more than 40% of the overall market share.
 
For many Chinese wine consumers Bordeaux is synonymous with great wine. Outside of Bordeaux and Burgundy, Southern France and the Rhône Valley also seen to offer great value and quality wines.
 
With heightened competition from other winemaking countries, the value of French wine imports seemed to be dropping at times. Compared to the first half of 2016, China's French wine import value has dropped from last year's US$503.15 million to US$485.1 million. Nonetheless, the country remains China's biggest source of imported wines.


Thanks to Lucy Shaw, Managing Editor The Drinks Business (UK)
for the permission to publish this article.