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China could be world's second largest wine consuming country within five years

Published:  04 November, 2013

China is on course to be the second largest wine consuming country behind the United States within the next five years, according to Don St Pierre Jr, co-founder of Chinese importing company, ASC Fine Wines, speaking ahead of his appearance at this month's Wine Vision conference in London, being organised in partnership with Harpers.

St Pierre will be setting out his vision for the Chinese wine industry at the Wine Vision event in which he will look at how China will continue to take a larger share of the global wine market.

At the moment China is the fifth largest wine consumption market with 180 million cases, compared to America's 315 million cases, said St Pierre, of which 36 million cases are imported.

"But the growth of the imported wine market has been approximately 55% a year since 2007. If you project out 15% a year for the next five years, the import market gets to 70 million cases. Combine this with 7% increase in total wine consumption and production and you get 258 million cases, which probably puts China at number two in the world after America," St Pierre explained. "There's a strong chance China will go from number five to number two in five years."

But he conceded the Chinese market continues to be "messy" and "unregulated" and "to a greater and greater extent, driven by unprofessional companies".

In an interview in the Novemvber issue of Harpers, he added: "Consumers also know relatively little about the product. It will grow, but who will benefit from that growth. That's the big question."

He also looks in to the issue of wine fraud in China claiming there are many different types of fraud wine in the market. "There's not that much 'fake wine' being sold in China, in terms of famous labels, certainly not as much as the perception. But there is a lot of fraud - wines marketed as grape varieties or regions that they are not."

St Pierre will be speaking on the second day of the three-day Wine Vision event on November 19 when he will take part in the debate: China uncovered: in-depthy analysis of the cultural and commercial challenges of operating in China. He will also take part in a session on the same day entitled: Navigating the wild west of the world: China speculation and fraud. Finally on November 19 he will take part in a debate: have we sold our soul to Asia.

St Pierre is one of nearly 80 international speakers taking part at Wine Vision which runs between November 18-20 and takes place at London's Film Museum. More details can be found at the Wine Vision website here and to register click here.