China Wine Market

A Hot Tip about Wine in China

Posted on: 24 Dec 2009

Since 2003, the wine market has experienced an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 17 percent by volume and currently holds a retail value of 7.15 billion dollars.

THIS REPOPT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Voluntary - Public Date: 8/19/2009 GAIN Report Number: CH9808 China - Peoples Republic of Post: Shanghai ATO National Wine Market Report Categories: Wine Approved By: Wayne Batwin Prepared By: Ben B. Sun, with contributions from ATO Beijing, ATO Guangzhou, and ATO Chengdu Report Highlights: Since 2003, the wine market has experienced an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 17 percent by volume and currently holds a retail value of 7.15 billion dollars. Over the same time period, China?s imported wine market has achieved a 37 percent AAGR, holding a current customs value of $381 million. Overall, 51 percent of wine is sold in the on-trade sector; the rest sold in the off-trade retail sector. Of retail purchases, 86 percent of bottles purchased were priced below $7 in 2008. Three exporting countries ?France, Australia and Chile- comprise 70 percent of the imported wine market, while four domestic companies control 27 percent of the total wine market. The United States ranks fifth in terms of value among countries exporting wine to China, but is losing market share in a growing market. Table of Contents Introduction-------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3 Executive Summary---------------------------------------------------------------- 3 Section I. Market Summary------------------------------------------------------- 4 A. The China Wine Market-------------------------------------------------------- 4 A.1 Current Market Situation------------------------------------------------------ 4 A.2 Domestic Production----------------------------------------------------------- 6 A.3 Import Market------------------------------------------------------------------- 8 B. Consumer Analysis ------------------------------------------------------------ 12 C. Competition --------------------------------------------------------------------- 17 C.1 Leading Domestic Companies------------------------------------------------ 17 C.2 Leading Importing Countries -------------------------------------------- ---- 22 D. Regional Reports---------------------------------------------------------------- 26 Section II. Market Entry and Promotion----------------------------------------- 30 A. Marketing ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 30 A.1 SWOT Analysis ---------------------------------------------------------------- 30 A.2 Keys to Success ---------------------------------------------------------------- 30 A.3 Promoting Wine in ?Gan Bei? Culture ------------------------------------- 31 B. Distribution Channels ---------------------------------------------------------- 33 C. Entry Methods ------------------------------------------------------------------- 35 D. ATO Marketing Assistance --------------------------------------------------- 36 Section III. Regulations and Taxes ---------------------------------------------- 37 Section IV. Conclusion ------------------------------------------------------------ 37 Section V. Post Contact Information and Further Information --------------- 38 Appendix A: Criteria for Selecting Distributors -------------------------- 39 Appendix B: Standards, Laws, and Regulations ------------------------- 41 Appendix C: Tariffs --------------------------------------------------------47 Appendix D: SRTG Description and Contact Information ---------------- 48 Appendix E: Exporting Product to China & Sending Samples ----------- 50 Appendix F: Discrepancies ------------------------------------------------ 53 Introduction Other reporting systems in China use the term ?wine? in reference to the entire market of fermented fruit alcohol, also including rice wine. In this report, the term ?wine? will refer specifically to still grape wine unless otherwise indicated. ?Grain-based wines? are commonly known as rice wines, but include all traditional Chinese spirits. Further clarification is required for the term ?disposable income.? ?Disposable income? is gross income minus government withholdings such as income taxes and social security contributions. ?Disposable income? gives a better understanding of consumers? actual purchasing ability, which is the reasoning behind its use. Executive Summary Since 2003, the wine market has experienced an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 17 percent by volume and currently holds a retail value of 7.15 billion dollars. Over the same time period, China?s imported wine market has grown by 37 percent AAGR, holding a current customs value of $381 million. Overall, 51 percent of wine is sold in the on-trade sector; the rest sold in the off-trade retail sector. Of retail purchases, 86 percent of bottles purchased were priced below $7 in 2008. Although wine exports to China experienced a 46-percent growth over the year prior in the first quarter of FY09, second quarter numbers illustrate the market?s first decline since 2003. Despite the market setback, projections continue to forecast an annual growth of 12 percent yearly for the next five years. Presently, target wine consumers are aged 25 ? 49 and primarily reside in urban areas with higher than average disposable incomes. Higher education and exposure to Western culture amplify the markets openness to new imported wines. The selection of adequate distributors and a branding strategy are the keys to the market development. In 2008, China?s 453,000 hectares of vineyards produced 6.4 million tons of grapes, 10 percent of the world?s market. Using about 10 percent of the domestic grape production, Chinese wineries produced 665 million liters of wine in 2007, which was up 34 percent from the year prior. Of the 500 wineries, four domestic companies control 27 percent of the total wine market: COFCO, Changyu, Weilong, and Dynasty. With foreign investment and streamlining production methods, domestic producers are catching up to western production capabilities, leaving a small window of opportunity for new market entrants. Still, production methods of China?s past have left the quality market niche wide open, prompting 70 countries to export to China in the last nine years. In 2008, just over 50 countries exported wine to China. Three countries control over 70 percent of the market for imported wines: France, Australia, and Chile. Leading domestic companies and exporting countries remain highly active in marketing and promotional strategies as well as creating a wine culture throughout China. Commitment, creativity, and sound marketing continue to fuel the top player?s increasing market share. Adaptation of such practices promises to win the United States a larger portion of the market. The U.S. wine exporters? biggest problem in the China market is lack of awareness in consumers? minds between the United States and quality wine. Cooperation between exporters, trade groups and Agricultural Trade Offices in China could remedy the situation. Section I. Market Summary A. The China Wine Market A.1 Current Market situation Although grape wine in China has a history spanning over 2,000 years, it is generally perceived as a foreign drink, always a distant runner-up to beer and traditional ?high octane? liquors such as grains- based wine. The last two decades have brought grape wine?s first notable impact on the drinking culture as well as its first signs of momentum with China?s consumers. The wine sector is experiencing remarkable growth rates, albeit the market is starting from a near nonexistent base. Since the year 2003, the market has experienced an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 17 percent by volume and currently holds a retail value of 7.15 billion dollars (Euromonitor). Over the same time period, China?s imported wine volume base has grown by an AAGR of 37 percent, holding a current customs value of $381 million (WTA). Imports comprise 18 percent of the market volume, but are poised to gain further market share as domestic production remains in development. Growth rates suggest that increases in demand will exceed domestic production capability. Trade data for fiscal year 2009 (FY09) shows that for the first quarter (Oct. 1 ? Dec. 31), which was during the initial symptoms of the global financial slowdown, exports to China remain unfettered with a 46-percent increase year-on-year for the quarter (WTA). Preliminary measurements for the second quarter, however, demonstrate the market?s first negative growth since 2003. In spite of the disappointing decline, Post concurs with Euromonitor?s forecast of 12-percent annual increases in the grape wine market over the next five years. Wine market potential: driving forces and negative factors In efforts to preserve grains for food production rather than alcohol production, members of the National People?s Congress in general assembly meetings trumpeted the health benefits of grape wine consumption over traditional grains-based wine. The effects of such a stance have been amplified due to a flurry of food safety scandals and growing health concerns. The ongoing cultural shift towards health awareness can, to some degree, be credited to the one child policy. The children of this generation are at times referred to as ?little emperors,? receiving the undivided attention of both parents and both sets of grandparents as well as their concern for the child?s health. This health oriented lifestyle is in turn being incorporated into the lives of the parents and it is safe to assume that the trend will continue as the one-child generation transitions into adulthood and has children of its own. China?s unparalleled economic growth of 9.9 percent in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) a year over the past decade is providing new income to consumers and giving them the means and opportunity to purchase new products to pair with their newfound higher standard of living. Holding true to wine?s image around the world, in China wine is a symbol of wealth and living well, and is purchased to solidify the burgeoning middle class?s arrival to affluence. Furthermore, since China established its currency (Renminbi, or yuan), it has pegged its value to the U.S. dollar at various set points, until 2005 when China partially lifted restrictions allowing the currency to adhere to a floating exchange rate. Since then, its value has appreciated by 21 percent against the dollar, furthering the population?s ability to purchase higher quantities of luxury imported products such as wine. In the gift giving culture of China, alcohol has traditionally been a staple but usually in the form of harder liquors. Fueled by wine?s prestigious image, it is increasingly becoming a common gift to friends, family, and business associates. Evidence of this can be found in the high sales spike around the Chinese Lunar New Year, which is typically in January or February. Red wine continues to be favored by consumers primarily for cultural reasons discussed in Section I.B. Such focus on red wine may over-saturate the market and drive the price for reds down in time, but has yet to do so in the current market. In 2008, 86 percent of individual wines purchased in retail outlets were valued at less than seven U.S. dollars (Euromonitor). Although the market is mostly price driven, key industry players have suggested that tremendous potential lies in the high end price ranges as well as the low. They have noted that the mid-range section presents problems because uneducated consumers tend to either trade up or down from this price point. In the beginning of 2008, Hong Kong eliminated all duties on wine imports causing a massive influx of product to enter the island. Since then Hong Kong has served as an untaxed hub for foreign goods to Mainland China. However, the value of the method has yet to be realized as the island is treated as a separate entity in terms of trade. This change offers hope that China may lower its duty rates further from what was done in 2004 to correspond with their admittance to the World Trade Organization (WTO), but as it stands, wines entering Mainland China through legal channels are subject to full duties. Hindering the imported wine market is a streamlining domestic market. Though still in its early stages, foreign investment in capital and technology will eventually bring domestic vineyards up to par with the rest of the wine world in terms of quality and production efficiency. Local production companies have well established distribution and marketing channels with widely recognized brands. Many domestic brands lack quality but are inexpensive. Local wines remain the highest contenders for market share, though they have been unsuccessful in capturing the perceived class and allure of foreign wine. Some foreign producers are carving out larger pieces of the pie, but these are either the first to the market or are currently investing highly in promotional efforts or both. This continues to be a major challenge for new market entrants, yet offers hope to those willing invest in the sector. The United States maintains a trade surplus with China in the agricultural sector and U.S. products are highly regarded as both safe and the best in quality. However, the United States is not recognized as a quality wine producer, or a wine producer at all in some cases, by the Chinese consumer. Recognition of the United States as a major wine producer is the biggest obstacle for U.S. wine exporters to China. A.2 Domestic Production China is a wine-producing country with over 500 wineries in operation, ten or so of which are major producers. The top four domestic companies-COFCO, Changyu, Weilong, and Dynasty-control over 27 percent of the entire grape wine market in China. These companies will be discussed in greater depth in a later section, but in general each has nationwide distribution, high brand recognition, customer loyalty, and a well defined niche. Of China?s 14 million hectares of permanent cropland, 453,000 hectares are designated to growing grapes; outpacing the planted area of Germany and the United States combined (wines-info). China?s grape production is immense, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the world?s grapes: 6.4 million tons in 2008. China is ranked third in this regard, under Italy and France, respectively. Of the total grapes produced in China, approximately 80 percent are consumed as fresh table grapes, 10 percent are reserved for raisin production, and the rest for making wine and grape juice. China has one of the largest fresh fruit markets in the world with increases in demand across the board. The grape market is experiencing a 10 percent increases in demand, with preferences towards local grapes due to price and freshness. With a growing demand for fresh local grapes, it is not likely the current 80:10:10 processing ratio will change dramatically and allays fears of a pending flood of domestic wines to the market. Major vineyards and wineries are located in China?s northeast around the Bohai Bay rim, in particular Hebei and Shandong provinces, and in its far-flung western province of Xinjiang. These areas which are about the same latitude as the south of France. Domestic wine production volume varies amongst reports, but in 2007 it was estimated to be over 665 million liters. Production was up 34 percent from the previous year and is set to continue growth through improved methodology and efficiency. Initial measurements for the 2008 production volume, however, estimate only a five percent growth and suggests production is hitting some upward limit. As of June 2008, the average off-trade retail price for a domestic red wine was $9.62, at the June 2008 exchange rate of 6.82RMB to one U.S. dollar. This is a dramatic increase from previous FAS reports and suggests that the average has been driven upwards by domestic producers? experimentation with higher quality wines. Prices range from $1.09 on the low end and to $57.66 on the high end of the market. It is important to reiterate that 86 percent of off-trade purchases were below the $7 mark. This is a segment still mainly dominated by domestic producers. Similarly in restaurants, the least expensive bottle of domestic wine is priced $5 to $10 lower than the least expensive import. ?In Vino Veritas?? China?s domestic wine has been under scrutiny for years by oenologists world-wide who have questioned its poor quality and unregulated production. Some critics and wine enthusiasts proclaimed Chinese wine was nothing more than ?sugar water with some food coloring, alcohol, and grape juice? and that they simply ?could not trust the label (Heimoff).? Unfortunately, wine fraud is an undeniable reality of the sector. Some domestic producers blend in both imported wine and pure alcohol during production and label it ?domestic wine.? Some domestic producers justify the practice by claiming it caters to consumer tastes. However, the National Grape Wine Standard of January 2008 was supposed to eliminate poor quality wines from entering the market through the enforcement of the 2005 standard, GB15037. Though imported wine is subject to these standards, in the domestic market enforcement is inconsistent. Nevertheless, progressively more domestic producers are ceasing such practices on their own to improve the quality of their label and reach the newly enforced certificate standard. Joint ventures with foreign wine companies, notably Dynasty?s partnership with Remy Cointreau and Changyu?s partnership with Groupe Castel, have helped China?s wineries procure new vines, improve production technology, and leverage foreign expertise and ?know how.? Domestic producers are investing heavily in marketing and brand building, pushing imported wines up the value pyramid. A.3 Import Market The blending and unregulated production methods of China?s past have left the quality market niche wide open. First to market suppliers have been capitalizing on this gap in a big way. Since 2003, foreign wine imports to China have grown 274 percent in total volume; 464 percent since 2001. In contrast, during the same five-year period, since 2003, the total market has grown by 91 percent. Import growth has hovered close to the actual volume added to the total market, significantly surpassing it in 2006 and 2008. This reveals that either new consumers are more likely to buy imported wines, or existing consumers are buying more or trading up to a foreign brand. Either situation bodes well for the future of the import market. China?s demand for wine has attracted exporters, large and small. In the last nine years, over 70 countries have thrown their hat in the ring. In 2008, just over 50 countries exported wine to China, the decline showing that the market is not for everyone. As seen in Table 1, France is the import leader, controlling 39 percent of the market?s value; up 52 percent from the previous year. Though the United States has experienced tremendous total growth this decade, in value by 912 percent and volume by 618 percent, it has yet to regain its ten-year peak market share of 8 percent, held in 2001. This illustrates the point that the United States, much like the rest of the world, has found it difficult to keep up with French wine export growth to China. Bottled and Bulk Of the $381 million import market, $276 million sold in bottled form in 2008, with France the leader in this as well, controlling 46 percent of the market?s value. Chart 1 shows current market shares, in terms of value, for imported bottled wine. A point that is even more telling of France?s dominance is that over the past three to four years, while all other top countries aside from Argentina have lost market share, France has gained, in terms of value, for both the bottled and overall market. The bottled market is presenting itself as an area of comparative advantage for U.S. wine. The United States is ranked fourth place in the imported bottled market. This in contrast to positions as low as seventh in terms of bulk wine volume. When comparing value and volume standings, the United States, Chile, Germany, and Argentina, switch positions, respectively. This shows that even in bottled form South American wine is less expensive than other imported competition. This speaks well for their competiveness against domestic brands. The average price for an imported red wine is $17.55 a bottle; nearly $8 more than a domestic alternative. Clearly the imported bottled import market is more dynamic than bulk, with 75 percent of the import value and a faster average growth rate. From 2003, bottled and bulk markets have encountered 41 and 12 percent AAGR?s, respectively. The standings in the bulk wine market are significantly different from those of the bottled market (See Table 1). The chart below demonstrates how Chile?s and Argentina?s relatively inexpensive product pushes them to ranks of one and two, respectively. The United States holds 5 percent of the bulk value totaling $4.4 million, up 95 percent from last year; and 4 percent of the volume, which is up 50 percent. Chart 2 illustrates the overall bulk wine picture. Reliable numbers are hard to come by, but anecdotal evidence and industry interviews suggest much of the bulk wine is still mixed with local product, some in proportions equal to international standards, while others far beyond exceed what can be acceptably labeled as domestic but is labeled as such nonetheless. However, total volume is beginning to plateau, signifying that the domestic industry may be ceasing to rely on mixing as a steady form of growth (See Chart 2). Still, outside of bulk wine allotted for mixing, some product is shipped to China for bottling under producer labels or under a private Chinese label. In both cases, they are still labeled as imports from their respective country, yet by bottling in China these wines can effectively lowered production costs. Local traders watch tentatively as the market evolves, paying close attention to trends as they emerge. Be it in bottled or bulk form, China has not only proven to be an ideal outlet for the grape glut, which sometimes plagues successful wine producing countries, but the largest developing market for premium product as well. B. Consumer Analysis China?s skyrocketing economy has increased the wealth of its urban citizens. In major metropolitan cities, disposable income is nearly two times higher than the national average; and closer to eight times higher than in rural areas. The disposable income national average has grown by an AAGR of nearly 19 percent over the last five years. From 2007 to 2008 disposable income increased by 24 percent and is currently $1,724 per capita. The highest average income demographic is aged 25 through 39, with a disposable income of around $2,500. Representing the majority of the upper-middle class, this grouping encompasses over 321 million people. Euromonitor notes that the most affluent population is aged forty to forty-nine, including roughly 50 percent of the income bracket of $40,000 plus and close to 60 percent of those earning over $100,000. This well-to-do population has already shown considerable interest in wine, with increasingly more private wine dinners, notable auction purchases, and private wine cellar installations. Beyond prosperity, the opening of the economy has brought about a sharp contrast in consumer behavior between the young and old. The younger generation is more educated and more exposed to Western culture; therefore, more willing to sample a higher priced imported wine. Many of them have studied or traveled abroad and are eager to bring their new tastes home. Market comments suggest that the savings rate is significantly lower in younger demographics, which are more likely to spend incomes on leisure. Although the national savings rate has remained constant and there is no further data to support this generalization, it has been a recurring statement during industry and social media research interviews. Women and ?Little Emperors? With increased health consciousness related to wines, women that culturally have not been encouraged to drink alcohol now add wine to their drink lists or those that already drink alcohol switch from local spirits to a healthier alternative. Furthermore, wine?s well established image of sophistication prompts a greater percentage of Chinese women to partake than other Asian countries. It is estimated that 40 percent of wine drinkers in China are women. Also, China's one child policy has left a large demographic of young, only children, with greater disposable income that are receptive to foreign products and willing to try imported wines. These trends have opened up lucrative markets that local industry is capitalizing on and U.S. wine exporters can target. ?Good or bad, it is My Country?s Wine? ? Expatriates in China Several million expatriates called China home in 2008, with another 26 million overseas visitors reported in 2007 (China Statistical Yearbook). As China becomes more of a financial powerhouse, and its tourism industry continues to blossom, these figure will only increase in years to come. Industry interviews in the specialty retail sector have noted that their most frequent customers are neighborhood expats knowledgeable of wine-food pairings, yearning for a taste of their home. While this demographic may seem small compared to the total population of China, it is a demographic who are already prone to buying premium wines. Consumption Set to Soar China?s grape wine per capita consumption of 0.7 liters is low when compared with Western countries like the United States (8.1 L), England (21.2 L), and Canada (15.2 L); and still comparatively low in contrast to other Asian countries such as Japan (1.8 L) and Hong Kong (0.9 L) (See Chart 3). Re sistance to drinking grape wine comes from the older generations mostly, who are accustomed to grains-based wines. However, based on discussion with the local media, the younger population is losing their taste for grains-based rice wine due to growing concerns over health and taste. In correlation, consumption statistics show that non grape wine consumption is increasing at a much slower rate than that of grape wine. Furthermore, in five years, grape wine in China is projected to catch up and surpass consumption in Hong Kong, which in its own right has become an important hub for wine culture not only in Asia but in the world. South Korea is also an important regional consumer market, and is Asia?s third largest alcohol market. Hope rests in increasing public awareness of well being and highly publicized health benefits of grape wine to continue the growth trend and transition away from China?s traditional liquors. Because low priced domestic brands are the most popularly purchased products, many first time consumers are basing their initial preferences and expectations on wine distinct from those typically imported from traditional wine producing countries. The average consumer knows nothing about wine attributes. Beyond domestics, awareness of foreign wines is strictly relative to the investment level and time in the market of a given country. An example that speaks to the awareness of U.S. wines in the Chinese market occurred during a research interview with a local lifestyle newspaper. The Agricultural Trade Office (ATO) Shanghai staff asked: ?Who makes wine and imports it to China?? Out of all the media representatives, none mentioned U.S. wine in their initial response, only to come up with the answer after the second round of prompting the question. Not surprisingly, even though the United States is ranked fifth in the market, when an importer tells a potential consumer that, for example, Washington wine is unique because the climate allows producers to control water contact, the consumer usually asks, ?Americans make wine?? ?What?s the Occasion?? At present, many wine purchases by local Chinese fall largely into two categories: banquet dinner purchases and retail gift purchases. Formal banquet settings involve the ordering of expensive dishes and drinks to demonstrate respect for guests or colleagues. As of late, red grape wine frequently substitutes traditional white grains- based wine at official banquets, especially for toasts. This practice has been encouraged by the Chinese government in attempts to improve health and reduce levels of harmful inebriation. For more information on gift giving in China refer to GAIN report CH8402. Preferences Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant favorite among consumers in China, followed by Chardonnay and Merlot (See Chart 4). Also, as mentioned before red wines outsell white and rosé combined, clinging to nearly three-fourths of the still grape wine market. ?Red? The red color holds positive connotations in Chinese culture. It symbolizes good fortune, happiness, and celebrations. Traditional Chinese weddings call for the bride to wear a red dress (as opposed to white); and red signs, lanterns, and envelopes adorn virtually all surfaces during the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival. Results of blind tastings indicate there is promise for American wines. In taste tests, Chinese consumers showed a preference for the fruitier flavor of U.S. wine. Other wine consulting industry experts claim dry wine is the preferred selection. Separate reports account that dry to semi-dry wines account for 50-75 percent of all wine sales, dry red being the most popular. In this emerging market, clearly taste preferences are still forming. ?Dare to Spend on Quality? ? Consumer Loyalty to Valued Products Further conflict arises between brand loyalty and price sensitivity. Consumers are more willing to buy inexpensive wine rather than running the risk of buying an unknown relatively more expensive wine that could be of poor quality. In this regard, the overall market is highly price-sensitive, leaving a niche market for pricier imported wines. However, consumers also rely heavily on word of mouth and popular opinion in determining their purchasing decisions in place of their own knowledge. Typical is this statement made by a key industry player: ?They just don?t know what their looking for. Once a label is associated with quality, they will opt for it given the opportunity.? This behavior is one of the reasons why domestics and French wine sales, which have survived the vetting process, remain strong and recognizable. Once established, brand loyalty is likely. When purchasing imported wine, Chinese consumers need to feel like they are getting value from their purchase. ?Gan Bei!? Drinking alcohol during celebrations and other gatherings is deeply rooted in Chinese culture. It is time for friendship, business, and different degrees of bonding. Such well followed tradition tends to excite producers of all alcohol, but for wine producers, developing a culture of wine consumption with food still has a long way to go. Traditional drinks ? beer and grain wines ? are typically served in oversized shot glasses and taken as such. Throughout the occasion, multiple toasts occur each ending with a ?gan bei,? or dry cup (the equivalent of toasting ?cheers?) in Chine language, and the contents consumed. Common practice for grape wine replaces the cup for a traditional wine glass, but drank in the same fashion, with just as many toasts. Further exotic customs in popular wine drinking include the mixing of ice, fruit, juice, or Sprite to dilute the taste, despite the price, vintage, or general quality that is so highly regarded in Western circles. These customs are quickly changing as consumers become better educated about wine. C. Competition C.1 Leading Domestic Companies Out of China?s 500 plus wineries in operation, four domestic companies control over 27 percent of the market. They are COFCO, Changyu, Weilong, and Dynasty, respectively (See Chart 5). COFCO COFCO Wines & Spirits Co. Ltd. is a fully owned subsidiary of China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO): China?s state-owned company for food processing, manufacturing, and trading. COFCO is a diversified conglomerate listed 398th in Fortune Magazine?s Global 500 index in 2008 and has five listed subsidiaries, one of which being China Foods Limited, the investment holding company controlling COFCO Wines & Spirits Co. Ltd. COFCO corked its first wines in the early 80?s, which is relatively recent compared to its leading competitor, Changyu. Its established distribution network as a foodstuffs monopoly has made it the market leader, pushing its brand Great Wall to the top ranked wine in nearly every region in China. COFCO?s wine volume has grown by an AAGR of 20 percent reaching 94 million liters in 2007. The 2006 financial data for COFCO Wines & Spirits Co Ltd. shows a profit margin of 18 percent, but China Foods Limited has a five year average net profit margin of 4 percent. the market leader, pushing its brand Great Wall to the top ranked wine in nearly every region in China. COFCO?s wine volume has grown by an AAGR of 20 percent reaching 94 million liters in 2007. The 2006 financial data for COFCO Wines & Spirits Co Ltd. shows a profit margin of 18 percent, but China Foods Limited has a five year average net profit margin of 4 percent. Successful Business Practices Great Wall wine production is headed by three wineries that prior to 2006 were partially owned subsidiaries and competed against each other for market share. Realizing the error in this business structure, COFCO Wines & Spirits bought out the remaining share holdings, integrating the three under one common label. That same year, Great Wall was awarded sole advertising rights for the 2008 Olympic Games. Leveraging the allure of the games, the company entered the high value market by producing Olympic-themed wine and engaged in unprecedented Chinese wine promotions during the games, ultimately projecting the Great Wall name and awareness of Chinese wine worldwide. The company?s website boasts exports to 20 different countries and regions. Though tangible amounts were not provided, industry insiders say COFCO leads Chinese efforts in this regard. In 2003, the company established a relationship with China Agricultural University, putting in place a viniculture and wine making program for higher learning. The program has acted as COFCO?s main talent pool for new employees. COFCO?s own distribution network reaches all parts of China, but its wine distribution has proven imperfect. Loosely structured second-tier distribution has proven defective in placement management and the company plans to centralize control. Beyond still grape wine, COFCO Wines & Spirits produces labels in the sparkling wine and non- grape wine categories as well. However, its market shares in the respectively small sparkling wine market and highly segmented non-grape wine market are not very significant. Still ranked number one in still grape wine, COFCO?s market share is down 2 points from 2007. Primary sales are still in the low-end to low mid-end price bracket. However, COFCO has recently been experimenting with high end lines. Currently, there have been no talks of a spin-off option away from China Foods Limited. Changyu Established in 1892, Yantai Changyu Group Co. Ltd., originally Zhang Yu, was China?s first industrial winery. Now, through its subsidiary Yantai Changyu Pioneer Wine Co. Ltd., it is the second ranked company in the market controlling six percent of grape wine sales in China. Yantai Changyu Group Co. Ltd. and Yantai Changyu Pioneer Wine Co. Ltd. are generally interchangeable under the name Changyu. Formally a state-owned enterprise with ownership from Yantai city (Shangdong Province) government, the company has since experienced a series of buyouts culminating with the 1997 listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange under a B share scheme, focusing on attracting foreign investment. The company made an additional A share offering in 2000, leaving the Yantai government with only a 12 percent stake in the company and the rest held by Changyu and foreign entities. Domestic consumption volume for Changyu has grown by an AAGR of 19 percent reaching 45.1 million liters in 2007. Current financial statements for Changyu report a five year average net profit margin of 21 percent. The 100 plus year old winery recently received international notoriety for taking the 10th position amongst the world?s top 10 largest wineries in 2007 and then 7th in 2008. Furthermore, in the recent list ?Asia's 200 Best Under A Billion,? Yantai Changyu Group Co. Ltd. was one of only two wineries listed and the only from China. These achievements have helped solidify Changyu?s global competitiveness and name recognition. Successful Business Practices Reports say that Changyu is one of the largest manufacturers in China, employing 4,000 people and producing 120,000 tons of grapes annually. The company reaches outside still grape wine into the sparkling, cider, and brandy markets where it holds top billing in all three categories. Rather than have nationwide distributors like its competitors, Changyu distributes to 29 provinces and municipalities through a vast network of distributors, wholesalers, and retailers that is well over 3,000 members strong. Such a network based on individual relationships and profits on the competitive advantage of its smaller, more specialized members, but is quite time consuming to maintain. With its growing recognition as a world wine player, Changyu wine is becoming more focused on the mid-end to high-end products, raising production standards accordingly. Noteworthy joint ventures have been formed with the French based Groupe Castel and Canadian based Aurora Ice Wine Co. Ltd. The gem of the Castel-Changyu joint venture is China?s first and largest wine chateau. The project offers two new aspects of the wine industry to China: wine tourism and barrel ordering. The latter is fully accessible through the company?s elaborate interactive website. The former can be expected to grow in a big way, as China?s tourism industry is mushrooming and offers for ?China Wine Tours? are already popping up on websites. The relationship between Yantai Changyu and Aurora Ice Wine has produced the world?s largest ice wine chateau. It single handedly doubled global production, cornering approximately half of the world ice wine market. Weilong Yantai Weilong Grape Wine Co., as the name suggests, is also located in the famous Yantai area. The privately owned company was established circa 1988 and claims distribution to 30 provinces and municipalities. Even though the company has had as high as the second market share position in recent years, there is virtually no information to be found on its business practices. What can be affirmed is that Weilong has the highest AAGR of the top four: 22 percent, and in 2007 the company had 41.3 million liters in domestic sales. Outside of still grape wine, Weilong is tied for second place for most volume sales in the China sparkling wine market. Based on Weilong?s price range placement, one can infer that they focus on low-end priced products. Dynasty Ownership and conception history of Dynasty is far less complex than its competitors. Established in 1980 as a joint venture between Tianjin City Grape Garden and Remy Martin, the company then went public on the Hong Kong Exchange in 2005, with Remy Martin remaining as its top investor. In past years, Dynasty had traditionally been number two in the market. However, in 2007 it experienced a slight shortfall in production growth causing it to slip to the number four spot. It currently holds 5 percent of the market. Dynasty has grown by an AAGR of 12 percent in terms of domestic production volume, with a 2007 volume of 36.5 million liters. It holds a five year average net profit margin of 15 percent. Successful Business Practices To offset recent production shortfalls, Dynasty has entered into a relationship with an Australian wine company that relies on Australia?s complementary growing season. Over the years, the company has actively purchased imported oak barrels to improve production quality. In recent months it has positioned itself to acquire inexpensive, high quality oak barrels to further advance quality production, while maintaining minimal expenditures. Focus on quality production has been a part of Dynasty?s business plan since its inception, with strong guidance from Remy Martin. Dynasty focuses on premium products and has traditionally been the staple drink served at state banquets and Chinese embassies world-wide. While focus is on quality, the company has products placed across the price spectrum. To ship these products, Dynasty enlists national distributors to reach all provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities, and special administrative regions governed by China. Despite its recent drop in standings, Dynasty remains a name most associated with quality Chinese wine. Lingering Industry Past As astonishing as these domestic industry accomplishments might be, Chinese producers are still plagued by past practices and food safety scares. The most recent occurrence was in late 2008 during the melamine in infant milk formula scandal when reports circulated that Chinese wine contained carcinogens. Changyu, along with Great Wall producer COFCO, were forced to fend off the reports. Bad press is not uncommon for producers worldwide. However, China has a history of lack enforcement and subsequent cover-ups of food and product safety irregularities, which the public is reluctant to forget and ignore. C.2 Leading Importing Countries Chart 6 : Top Wine Importers to China Market Share 2008 39% France Australia 16% Chile All Other 30% 15% Euromonitor Nearly three -f ourths of wine imports into China come from three nations. France remains the prevailing supplier. Three countries, France, Australia and Chile, control over 70 percent of the market for imported wines (See Chart 6). Differing greatly in terms of entry time, products, and strategy, France, Australia, and Chile reach common ground on market dominance and strong promotional activities. Commitment, creativity, sound marketing strategies, and structured support programs fuel the top three?s continued growth. France Through a Sino-French joint venture, France entered the market in 1980 with the creation of Dynasty. Direct wine imports from France soon followed and flourished virtually unchallenged until 1997 when the first notable amounts of other foreign wine began to enter the market. Despite the presence of competition, French wine continues to dominate the market, holding 39 percent of the imported wine share and growing 50 percent in value from 2007. French wines primarily enter the market through the ports listed in Table 4. Although French product disproportionately enters through Eastern China, North and South China are still represented in the top three. Even with the clear lead French companies remain active, engaging in new joint ventures ? notably Castel-Changyu ? trade missions, and actively promoting its products through trade organizations. France?s primary trade organization is the private, for-profit company Sopexa, which has three offices in Mainland China as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan. Although Sopexa does not receive funding from the French government for non- government agency events, the company has a standing account with the French Forestry and Agriculture Office, working on various promotions. It has a full official marketing program in China. Sopexa orchestrates an array of promotional activities including wine tastings, promotional events, and trade shows. In 2007, Sopexa held a successful wine tasting series in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, which represented close to 100 wineries and entertained nearly 3,000 guests. Currently, as part of its program ?French Weeks,? Sopexa holds weeklong promotional events in hypermarkets (usually Carrefour) across the country. In 2009 alone, in addition to Sopexa?s involvement in Vinexpo (Vine Expo), SIAL China (largest show for retail goods in China), and FHC (Food and Hotel China Shanghai), the company has prepared numerous other trade shows including: Mini Expo Shows, The French Wines Trade Show, and the Aperitifs Promotion. Its Mini Expos run for 24 hours, set to take place in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taipei. The French Wines Trade Show of July 2009 will be held in Beijing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. In correlation to the show, French wines will be on sale in restaurants during the period. Finally, the Aperitifs Promotions in China will involve five restaurants in Beijing. Australia Having only become a major player in China in 2002, Australia?s position has fluctuated over the years. The country currently sits at number two in market share, with 16 percent of the import market, up 31 percent in value over 2007. Recently new to the market, Australia made its presence known through creative promotions and branding. Already having success with ?critter brands? in the United States, the marketing scheme has been a success in China as well. Like France, most product moves through the Eastern China port of Shanghai, though all regions are represented in the top ten. It is worth noting that Australia?s wine is more evenly distributed amongst the ports (See Table 5). Austrade is a government agency that supports Australian exports. The organization has 15 offices in China and is federally funded. After its success in 2008, ?A Taste of Australia? is set to encore in 2009. The trade event will be held in the Southern cities of Chongqing, Kunming, Xiamen, Guangzhou, and Sanya. The series is meant to correlate with the largest wine tasting ever hosted by the Australian Consulate General in Shanghai, which took place during the drafting of this report. After its success in 2008, ?A Taste of Australia? is set to encore in 2009. The trade event will be held in the Southern cities of Chongqing, Kunming, Xiamen, Guangzhou, and Sanya. The series is meant to correlate with the largest wine tasting ever hosted by the Australian Consulate General in Shanghai, which took place during the drafting of this report. Perhaps Austrade?s most important program is the one designed to help Australian exporters themselves. In addition to market analysis and logistic support, the program offers a step-by-step guide to entering the China market which includes checkpoints to ensure a company is ready to proceed. Furthermore, the organization offers financial assistance up to 50 percent of expenditures over a set threshold. Additional activities include sponsoring trade missions for Chinese traders to travel to Australia and current trade talks of a free trade agreement. Outside Austrade sponsored activities, books specifically geared to promote Australian wines to Chinese consumers have recently been hitting the shelves. The most notable was written by Jeremy Oliver and is featured to the left. Such books provide detailed tasting notes and suggestions on how to enjoy Australia?s leading labels. Chile From being a relatively unknown country in China, Chile now faces a situation unique to top wine market players. Through frequent and elaborate promotional activities, Chile has captured 15 percent of the market, securing its position as number three. The value of its share is up 23 percent from 2007. Due to Chile?s bulk wine focus, it mainly ships to North China where the majority of domestic wineries that use Chilean wine to facilitate blending are located. In order to minimize shipment time, Chile makes use of a wide range of ports strategically located near product end users (See Table 6). In 2006, Chile entered a free trade agreement with China. For wine, tariff rates drop by 1.4 percent per year and will reach zero in 2015. The import tax is 8.4 percent as of 2009 (for other countries, the tax is 14 percent). In addition to wine, Chile promotional activities have needed to promote the country itself. Through the government agency Pro Chile, efforts to spread the countries image throughout China have proven successful. Touting the slogan ?Chile: All Ways Surprising,? the agency has engaged in self- described ?waves of promotion.? Ongoing events include ?Chile Weeks,? where weeklong promotional events inform the public about both Chile?s products and culture. Activities include dancing, art, and music. Venues in Shanghai have been a large mall in Pudong and the Shanghai Art Museum. Recent sponsorship of a Chinese coalition to Chile culminated in the book Wines From Paradise: Chilean Wines, written by esteemed Chinese wine critic, Susie Wu (featured right). Other government sponsored trips to Chile included a wedding travel package awarded to a Chinese couple. The trip followed the ?All Things Surprising? theme and was featured on two television shows. Pro Chile?s ?Sister Cities? program is intended to match specific Chilean and Chinese cities that match well for imports while putting a face to the country. The "Chile: A close partner" program is set to focus on central and southwest China, where the agency believes market opportunity exists. These tailored programs have been widely accepted by Chinese businesses and consumers. D. Regional Reports As seen in the table below, market sizes vary vastly across the different regions of China. The largest regions are East and North/Northeast China. Having the largest market volume and a slightly smaller population, the North/Northeast region holds the highest per capita consumption, just topping that of the South. The Northwest has a non-alcohol-drinking population majority, which explains why per capita consumption is well below the national average. While the North/Northeast region is the largest by volume, East China is the largest by value, holding a retail value of $2.3 billion. Consumption in the Northern regions is comprised predominately of domestic product whereas the East consumes much more imported wines. Beyond the wine sector, the East and North/Northeast China have the largest gross regional production, accounting for over 53 percent of the country?s gross domestic product. Not surprisingly, the two regions contain China?s two largest metropolitan cities: Shanghai and Beijing. The even larger disparity in the on- and off-trade figures between regions is telling of the difference in market maturity levels. Whereas the two largest markets favor on-trade purchases, the remaining (other than South China) dramatically favor off-trade purchases. In the latter grouping, such a displayed preference may suggest that market demand remains driven by gift purchases. In the case of the markets that favor the on-trade sector, the data implies that entertainment is the driving force behind demand. South China is seemingly in a transition state of market maturity. Cities of Interest Table 9 provides an overview of cities that hold particular importance to the wine sector. Each city has been identified by its regional Agricultural Trade Office as a current or potential primary market for wine. Respective offices can provide more detailed information on each city upon request. Please refer to Section V of this report for office contact information. North China Market Pulse as Reported by ATO Beijing Distribution channels in North China are well developed in the East, interlinking most coastal and second-tier cities. As products venture west, channels become heavily segmented with large gaps. In addition to port cities in the region, wine is commonly shipped to Shanghai and trucked to Northern cities. The size and convenience of the port makes this option viable. Two of the primary grape-growing regions are located in Northern China (Hebei and Xinjiang provinces) and another key region, Shandong province, bordering the region. Additionally, all major domestic wineries are located within the area. The strong presence of domestic production encourages both the wine culture and a sense of wine nationalism, creating a highly brand loyal environment. Beyond loyalty to domestic labels, loyalty to sweetened domestic taste increases the practice of supplementing imported wines with cola and juice. North China remains the largest regional market for wine. South China Market Pulse as Reported by ATO Guangzhou Established and well developed distribution channels move product throughout South China and the Pearl River Delta. Movement is typically by truck reaching into West and Southwest Regions. Grey channel trade continues to play a major role in the regional market. Although inexpensive grey channel products can reach as far as Shanghai or Beijing, its primary area of supply is the Pearl River Delta, making its influence unique to South China. Grey channel trade will be discussed at greater length in Section II.B of this report. South China consumers are more apt to try new products due to long exposure to Western culture. South China?s proximity to the former British colony of Hong Kong has provided consumers access to Western products and lifestyle. This long-lasting connection with the West makes consumers in South China more willing to pay a premium for high quality imported wines. East and Central China Market Pulse as Reported by ATO Shanghai Shanghai port is the largest port for imported wine and serves as the gateway to East and Central China. The distribution network stemming from East China ports of Shanghai and Ningbo supplies all of the East and Central region as well as spilling into both the Northern and Southern regions. Leading distributors have channels interlinking first-tier cities and subcontract distribution into second- and third-tier cities. Although there are no apparent gaps in coverage, temperature controlled distribution deteriorates the farther away it moves from the Shanghai metropolitan area. Combined, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces and Shanghai municipality is the most affluent region in China with both the largest gross and disposable incomes per capita. However, as the long-standing wine market epicenter, Shanghai has become saturated with specialty wine shops and wine tastings in some neighborhoods to the point that at least the latter has lost its ability to draw in new crowds. Still, East China remains at the forefront of the growing wine culture. Southwest China Market Pulse as Reported by ATO Chengdu As an emerging market region, Southwest China?s distribution channel is immature and has room for improvement. Local distributors often do not carry adequate stocks of product and therefore cannot guarantee timely distribution of a particular label. Agents vary in their ability to handle foreign product and reliability. Furthermore, many of the existing cold chain storage facilities in Southwest China are older and lack sufficient moisture and temperature controls to consistently maintain product quality. As an increasingly larger destination for tourism and foreign investment, Southwest China has the largest potential for growth in the wine sector. In 2007, tourism revenue grew close to 25 percent in the region, whereas revenue from the hotel and catering industry grew close to 30 percent. For the time being, the young regional market will continue to be a highly price sensitive market. Section II. Market Entry and Promotion A. Marketing A.1 SWOT Analysis A.2 Keys to Success The most important key to a successful export strategy to China is establishing a long term commitment to building personal relationships. U.S. agricultural exporters will be left disappointed if their only contact with Chinese counterparts is when it is time to make a sale. This is especially true in the wine sector, where active promotions and distributor relationships ? the most important of relationships ? can make or break a wine?s chances of success. Many exporters make the faulty assumption that China is one market of over 1.3 billion consumers. Chinese are vastly diverse among regions and social strata, making wine marketing the process of finding the right niche. Nationwide distribution success stories tend to come after labels build upon their entry level niche, putting in the ground work and face to face time creating and developing their market. Importers and distributors act more or less as the gatekeepers to the market. The point cannot be stressed enough that the relationship with them is quintessential and directly correlated to success in China. Agricultural Trade Offices in China can provide importer/distributor contact information in their coverage area and Appendix A gives criteria for selecting and evaluating distributors based on pragmatic market experience. After identifying a distributor, it is important to have a business agreement that specifically addresses each party?s involvement in the marketing plans and goals. Once buyers have been pinpointed, establishing relationships with them will be the building blocks for a sustainable business. Good buyers come in all sizes; at the same trade show one could meet a buyer from Hangzhou or a central Asian buyer from a multinational retail chain. Where the larger may have a further reaching distribution network, the smaller may be better suited to fit a tailored marketing strategy. In either instance, the more personal of a relationship the buyer feels with the seller, the buyer is more apt to continue promoting the product to consumers. GAIN report CH6820 demonstrates the basics of the Chinese business culture to assist first time exporters to China start off on the right foot. A.3 Promoting Wine in ?Gan Bei? Culture Shakespeare said, ?Good wine needs no bush,? however, in China, it does. When a brand enters the China market the brand is essentially starting over. Success in the outside world will help build prestige as a premier wine later on, but the initial steps will be on developing an effective branding campaign and building brand image to consumers just as it is done in the United States with just as much time and effort. The average Chinese consumer is not only unaware of the label, they are skeptical of foreign products at first sight. Branding wine as a quality, sophisticated wine is an essential start. Just as in business relationships, sustained long term promotion is the best way to develop a market. Essentially, through marketing and promotional campaigning, exporters should strive to develop a relationship with new consumers. After the market has been identified, promoting to this group becomes much easier. Trade shows and trade missions are a good way for exporters to get their feet wet before promoting wine dinners or wine culture education programs. Appendix E explains the process of sending samples. As for a specific promotional strategy, ATO Shanghai would suggest U.S. states and regions ban together to promote their image. The initial promotional push of country of origin and growth region has proven to be widely accepted by Chinese consumers. Only after the consumer base is educated and convinced of the superiority of a wine?s origin and quality are individual brands fully able to compete. Furthermore, grape growing regions in the United States are fewer and can be named as compared to those in Europe. Though seemly insignificant, in China, consumers say Lafite?s awe-inspiring popularity is due to its easy pronunciation and natural conversion to Chinese. One would be hard-pressed to find a commodity with a more positive image in China than wine, which is associated with sophisticated western culture, the social elite, and good health. In terms of agriculture production, the United States has been seen as a reliable supplier of high quality goods. The goal is to marry these two attributes to demonstrate that American wine is also renowned throughout the world. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Throughout China, IPR infringement threatens the reliability and confidence in U.S. agricultural products. Domestic and third-country products labeled as U.S. goods not only take away from U.S. market share, but threaten the image of safety and quality of U.S. goods. American wine can potentially come under attack in four ways: 1. ?Stickering? ? IPR pirates sticker domestic goods under the guise of seemingly official U.S.A., specific state, or government approval insignias. 2. Bootlegs ? Replicas simulating the appearance in both bottle and label of particular brands are filled with domestic product. 3. Mixing ? U.S. wines are essentially ?watered? down with domestic product to increase volume. This can occur in correlation with bootlegging. 4. ?Squatters? ? In China, the first entity to register a particular patent, copyright, or trademark has exclusive rights irrespective of registration in other countries. Some local profiteers have begun to register international brands for themselves in anticipation that these companies will one day come to China and be forced to purchase usage rights. Protecting intellectual property is a critical part of doing business in China. Avoiding infringement requires geographical indicators, food labels, patents, copyrights, and trademarks to be properly registered in the United States and with the relevant Chinese registration office. The FAS IPR office located in Beijing can assist U.S. producers in protecting their brands and intellectual property rights. Contact information is provided in Section V. Other sources of information include the following: ? GAIN Reports CH7023, CH7027, CH7028, CH7035, CH7046, and CH9025, are all available in the FAS website: ? The U.S. Embassy?s China IPR toolkit: B. Distribution Channels As with all agricultural goods exported to China, distribution to end users becomes increasingly difficult the further away end users are from major coastal cities. The cold chain is segmented with large gaps and the business dealings with multiple parties are intricate, making it ever more important to select a quality distributor. Presently, many of the largest wine distributors are not open to carrying new labels. Trucking serves as the main medium of distribution, however, many trucks are either without temperature control or improperly operated. The extreme temperatures of the summer and winter months have been known to affect the quality of products and have forced some distributors to forego shipping during the period. Operating supply chains generally follow the Figure 1 flowchart. As illustrated in the chart above, on-trade consumption of wine overtook off-trade by the same small margin as in the past: 51 and 49 percent, respectively, in 2008. A continual growth in both ca
Posted: 24 December 2009

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