China’s wine market showed signs of recovery in 2014, with imports returning to growth, according to customs figures.
Mainland China imported 383.85m litres of wine in 2014, up by 1.9% versus 2013, according to the latest customs data. But, the value of imports declined by 2.5%, to US$1.52bn.
That means the average price of imported wine was $3.95 per litre in 2014, down by 4.3% compared to the year before.
Chinese importer ASC Fine Wines said that the imported wine market ‘contracted for the first eight months of 2014’. However, in the last few months of the year, ‘we saw imports begin to increase, likely reflecting the completion of destocking in the market and some optimism for demand for entry- and mid-level wines in the 2015 Chinese New Year Festival buying cycle.’
The figures suggest China’s wine market has begun to recover from the impact of the government's austerity measures. They also support anecdotal evidence that it is mid-priced and low-end wines that are driving growth.
French wines continued to dominate the market last year, constituting one third of imports. However, the volume and value of imported French wines fell by 5.39% and 6.8% respectively.
In contrast, Chile appeared to benefit from its free trade agreement with China. Imports of Chilean wine increased by 8.6% in volume to 90.8m litres. The country continued to be the top exporter of bulk wine (56.5m litres in 2014 worth $41.8m), while imports of bottled wine rose by 33.9% and 24.5% in volume and value respectively, to 34.2m litres worth $124.5m.
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