2017 China wine imports: Australia and Georgia taking a leap

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China’s wine imports rose further in 2017, with Australian, Chilean and Georgian wines showing significant growth. Meanwhile, Higher average prices for bulk and sparkling wines suggest the market’s increased demand for quality.

Image: Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter
Image: Decanter Shanghai Fine Wine Encounter

Imported bottled wines rose by 14.6% in volume and 16.4% in value in 2017 versus 2016, according to the latest Chinese customs figures.

If bulk and bottled wines are added together then 745 million litres of wine worth 2.8 billion US dollars reached China during the year 2017—a 16.9% increase in volume and 18% increase in value.

The increase reflects the positive effects of China’s various Free Trade Agreements, which have cut wine tariffs, said trade professionals.

Credit: DecanterChina.com
Click to expand. Credit: DecanterChina.com

Free Trade Agreements

Imports of Australian bottled wines increased by 33.3% in volume and 25.8% increase in value compared to 2016.

Import tariffs on Australian wines entering China fell from 14% to 2.8% on 1 January 2018. The tariff is set to be reduced to zero in 2019, under the terms of a bilateral trade deal signed in 2015.

China also saw imports of wines from Georgia rise by 45% in both volume and value in 2017, albeit from a low base. The two countries signed a free trade agreement in May 2017, which including waiving the 14% import tariff on Georgian wines.

China also has a free trade deal with Chile, and the latter saw wine shipments to China rise by 25%, according to Chinese customs data.

The top 10 importer countries in volume

France remained China’s top source of imported bottled wines in 2017, with imports up by 14% in volume to 218 million litres, although only 8.8% in value, to the equivalent of one billion US dollars.

On average, French wines entering China fetched 4.82 USD per litre (3.61 USD per bottle) in 2017.

Wines from the USA saw a slight decrease in import volume, but the value of imports jumped by 44.1% versus 2016 – suggesting a shift towards premium wines.

As a result, the average price of wines from the USA hit 7.85 USD per litre (5.89 USD per bottle), overtaking that of Australian wines, which fell by 5.6% to 6.45 USD per litre on average.

After seeing minor growth in 2016, South African wines suffered a 15% drop in import volume and a 29.7% decrease in value in 2017.

Sparkling and bulk wines

Just over 25% more bulk wine entered China in 2017 versus 2016.

However, a 40.8% increase in value – translating to a 12.2% increase in average price – hinted at the market’s higher demand for quality.

Similarly, sparkling wines entering China saw a 27.2% increase in average price to fetch 5.74 USD per litre (4.3 USD per bottle).

(Editing by Chris Mercer)

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