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WBWE targets fast growing thirst for bulk in China

Published:  31 May, 2019

World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) has launched its first Chinese edition in the northern port city of Yantai in response to the booming market for bulk wine imports into China.

Yantai was selected as the ideal location as over 80% of bulk wine shipments into China already move through the port, with Chinese bulk buyers and winemakers concentrated in the region.

“The organisers had been planning on bringing the event here for four years. This is a wine region, so the government of Yantai – and politics is very important in China – saw it as a chance to give the region the exposure it needs, so it’s a win-wine situation,” explained Natalia Posadas-Dickson, WBWE conference programme director.

Figures presented by at the event by WBWE Asia showed just how fast the market for bulk in China is growing.

Against a global picture of increasing bulk shipments and sales, global purchases of bulk wine by China to be bottled in destination have geared up from 31 million litres in 2000 to 176 million litres in 2018, with growth in consumption of bulk imported and bottled at source wines predicted to continue this upward trend.

Posadas-Dickson added: “The potential [of the Chinese market], the size, the opportunities, the fact it’s a new market, that people want to learn - how could you resist being here, and we felt had number of producers, of the calibre, behind us to do it.”

China currently sits in fifth place globally in terms of bulk imports, behind Germany (615 million litres in 2018), France (543 million litres), UK (500 million litres) and USA (251 million litres).

However, China tops the list as fastest growing import market for bulk wine, followed by Hong Kong.

Moreover, both WBWE and IWSR analysis show China as a market where premium sales are on the increase over entry level for both bulk and bottled imports of wine.

Spain, followed by Australia, Italy and Chile, are the main bulk providers, while the biggest growth in shipments has been from Argentina, USA and Hungary – generally reflected in the mix and strength of presence of those at the event.

The main bulk suppliers to China have been Chile, at 93.0 million litres (up 66% over the 2017-2018 period), followed by Australia, at 45.9 million litres (up 22.8%). Spain ranks third, on 8.7 million litres, and France fourth, at 6.7 million litres.

WBWE Asia brought together 140 exhibitors from 20 different countries, a total of 208 wineries and cooperatives, with strong representation from territories including Australia, Argentina and Chile, along with South Africa, Italy and Moldova.

The timing of the event at the end of May was designed to reflect the southern harvest cycle and availability of new wines from a majority of primary bulk suppliers into China, according to Beijing-based consultant and WBWE co-founder Jorg Phillipp.

He added that this timing and the Asia location also had also meant that there had been little or no cannibalisation of exhibitors and visitors registering with regard to WBWE’s annual Amsterdam event, which has established itself as the leading global bulk wine fair during its 10 year run.