By Jim Boyce
The 88th China Food and Drinks Fair — Táng Jiǔ Huì / 糖酒会 — officially starts Thursday but thousands of people are already pouring into Chengdu in China’s central province of Sichuan for meetings and preparations. Look for over 100,000 of them to pass through by show’s to wheel and deal and take a toll on the collective liver. I aim to post daily and pass on comments, tweets, stories and the like from the fair.
Kiwis in the Middle Kingdom
Christopher Adams reports in The New Zealand Herald that eight of the country’s wineries, including Villa Maria, Babich, Giesen, Ngatarawa, Invivo and Trinity Hill, will head to Sichuan Province to be part of a New Zealand Trade and Enterprise pavilion:
[Invivo co-founder Tim] Lightbourne said one of the main challenges in China was enticing Chinese consumers away from French red wines, which made up the bulk of wine imports to the country.
It was also a highly fragmented market, with Invivo having a single distributor who appointed around 50 sales agents across China, Lightbourne said. “Generally you don’t see your wine in retail chain wine stores and [the market] is not overseen by five to 10 key buyers operating large chains like you would see in Australia or the UK.
“The channels to consumers are varied and there is a lot of gift giving, which often means you need to single package your wine in wooden boxes.”
More details here.
Bubbly from Shandong
Stacier Wei at China Wine Info reports that Shandong operation Changyu will present its sparkling wines in Chengdu:
During the wine fair, GM of Changyu Wine Group announces that the company is ready for going into the sparkling wine sector. Many Chinese drinkers are familiar with Champagne, but not with sparkling wine. There is great potential to develop business opportunities in this market sector.
More details here.
Wine writer and consultant Jeannie Cho Lee from Hong Kong tweets: “On my way to Chengdu wine fair. Eager to gauge mood this year vs last few years given new regime’s strong stance against conspicuous consumption.” Follow Cho Lee’s wine fair mood-gauging here.
If my talks with China-based distributors the past few months are any indication, the measures are having a major impact at the high-end, with some citing sales down 50 percent or more.
Cracking Out The Vintage
What could be better than winding down a week of heavy meetings and drinking than by listening to a band that for twenty years has given the planet songs like “I Want It That Way“, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and — Georg Riedel might like this one — “Unbreakable“.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it beats an all-night ganbei session at KTV. Grab those half-empty bottles and party on. More details available from What’s on Chengdu here.
UPDATE: Nooooooooo! In the excitement, I confused March and May. The Boys are actually coming to Chengdu two months from now. You will have to go to KTV after all.
Food for Drink
Oh, and for those who want even more wine during their stay in Sichuan, East Meets West has a dinner on March 27.
(Issue 2 of the Grape Wall e-newsletter GWoC Talk is out. You can sign up here here and see a sample here. You can also follow me on Weibo here and on Twitter here and here. Got something to add to these daily reports? Contact me at beijingboyce (at) yahoo.com.)