By Jim Boyce
Growing by hops and jumps instead of leaps and bounds. That might best describe the wine import situation in China during the past year.
Customs stats for 2012 show wine imports increased at a far slower pace than at any other time in recent years. Those expecting annual growth of 50 percent or more will be disappointed by a rise of 10 percent — up to 266 million liters from 241 million liters in 2011. Indeed, that is disappointing for China although elsewhere such a number would be seen as a success. In fact, it should be considered a decent performance given suggestions the market might shrink in 2012. (See Is China Seeing a Slowdown in Wine Imports and Will the Market Shrink in 2012?)
France retained its grip on importers in China, representing nearly 50 percent by volume, followed by Australia, Spain, Chile, Italy and the United States (see the stats below). Those countries — the “big six” — continue to account for more than 90 percent of bottled imports.
The biggest shifts were with Australia, which saw slight growth but continued to lose market share. It now holds 12.7 of the market by volume, a far cry from the days when it claimed more than 20 percent, although there is some consolation in that it ranks high in value per bottle. On the other hand, Spain saw large gains, up nearly 50 percent. It now represents 10 percent of the market although has very low value per bottle.
I’ll have more on the statistics in the next 24 hours, including more coverage of the bulk wine and by value numbers.
(Hat tip: Tempranillo)