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Price the key factor in Chinese market

Published:  23 July, 2008

Chinese wine consumers are extremely price-conscious, and have yet to develop a palate for top-quality wine, according to a new survey.

The results of the year-long survey into the Chinese market were released by the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG).

The opportunities included:

an improved environment for imports, thanks to China agreeing to reduce tariffs on wine from 65% to 14%;

Beijing and Shanghai having a high number of major hotels and restaurants; and

the urban consumer class in China exceeding the total US population.

On the downside, domestic wines are usually below U$4 (2.13), while imported wines are generally U$15 (7.98) or more. Also, consumers have a poor wine knowledge, and have not yet developed a taste for fine wine.

The report added that between 1995 and 2001, the area under vine doubled, as did wine production. Wine production is also growing by 10% year on year.

Joe Rollo, international director of the Wine Institute of California, said: The report showed evidence of China developing a

strong wine consumer base. In fact, I see a Chinese market that could be so large, I don't see it being satisfied by their own domestic wine industry alone, and that could open the door for imported wines, especially those

from California.'

Vinexpo Asia-Pacific 2006, which was held in Hong Kong last month, attracted nearly 7,000 visitors. Vinexpo chief executive Robert Beynat said: Our exhibitors have expressed that attendance was impressive. All of Asia was present - most importantly China.'