China Wine Import Stats for 2011: France Crushes the Competition (Again)

By Jim Boyce

New year, old story in the China wine scene as France again lengthened its lead in terms of both volume and value when it comes to bottled imports. Overall, the market soared to 241 million liters in 2011, up 65 percent over 2010, according to Customs data. (Note: the following numbers were provided by an industry insider who crunched the data.) France beat the average, rising 73.9 percent to reach 117.9 million liters, giving it just under half of market share. Meanwhile, Australia, long the bridesmaid, continued its slide despite growth—37.2 percent—that would be impressive anywhere else in the world. Here are the numbers for the “big six” nations that represent ~90 percent of incoming bottled wine.

The next two biggest players, South Africa and Portugal, saw strong gains: the former rose 101.4 percent to 4.6 million liters, while the latter rose 106.4 percent to 3.5 million liters. Rounding out the top ten, Germany and Argentina lagged: The former rose 22.5 percent to 3.5 million liters, while the latter rose 24.3 percent to 3.4 million liters. Just outside the top ten, New Zealand was up 46.8 percent to 2 million liters.

In terms of value, France did even better. Overall, Customs listed 920.4 million Euro of bottled wine in 2011, up 85.5 percent over 2010. Again, France beat the average, rising 98.8 percent to take 55.4 percent of the market. France only edged over the 50 percent mark in 2010 and now it is halfway to 60 percent! And given that smuggled wine is generally thought to be top-end Bordeaux, this number is likely understated. Number two Australia saw a 59.3 percent increase in value, below the average, though the silver lining is that its price per bottle went up. Here are the “big six” by value.

Of the “big six” importers, the biggest rise came from Spain, up from 20.1 to 44.8 million Euro, or 122.6 percent, while the number eight importer, South Africa, went from 6.7 to 14.5 million Euro, up 118.8 percent. Of the 20 countries with at least a 1 million Euro of imports, the biggest increase from 2010 to 2011 was for Macedonia, which went from 0.15 to 1.28 million Euro, up 735.5.

I have to run now but I’ll be back with more info on imported bulk wine, where Chile is no longer the top source, some value-per-bottle info, and a few thoughts on what the numbers mean.

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(Hat tip to Tempranillo)

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