After a period of steady growth from 2000 to 2010, India‘s wine production dropped 15 percent in 2011 and improved slightly in 2012.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE
BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S.
GAIN Report Number: IN2162
Post: New Delhi
Wine Market Update 2012
Agriculture in the Economy
After a period of steady growth from 2000 to 2010, India‘s wine production dropped 15 percent in
2011 and improved slightly in 2012 to 11.5 million liters (1.3 million cases). Unsold stocks of wine
following the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 led wineries to procure fewer grapes and growers have
shifted to alternate crops over the past four years as prices dropped. India has a number of strong
demographic factors that bode well for the long-term development of the industry, but growth is
hampered by a complex domestic system of excise, licenses and fees that increase the cost of
imported and domestic wine significantly and make it difficult for small wineries to market outside
of their home states. It appears that growth in the consumption of wine has been limited since 2007,
but a committed group of enthusiasts continues to promote wine. Some local wineries are working
to produce less expensive and sweeter wines that are better suited to Indian consumer preferences in
an effort to expand the market. Lower domestic production and persistent promotion efforts appear
to be yielding results for imported wines; imports increased 75 percent to a record 4.4 million liters
(500,000 cases) in 2011 and are on pace to match that level in 2012 despite a weakened rupee.
India‘s first winery was established during the 1980s and by 2000 there were just six operating
wineries. Production subsequently expanded rapidly, peaking at an estimated 13.0 million liters
(1.4 million cases) in 2010, before dropping in 2011 and 2012. Wine grape production takes
place in the state of Maharashtra in the higher elevations around Nashik, Sangli and Pune and
the state of Karnataka in the Nandi Hills near Bangalore. Maharashtra accounts for about two-
thirds of domestic wine production. The state of Goa, a former Portuguese colony, produces an
estimated 300,000 liters (33,300 cases) of port wine, but does not produce grapes. While India
is located in the northern hemisphere, due to high temperatures followed by heavy monsoon
rains from April to September, grapes are on a ―fall/spring‖ cycle and mature during the
somewhat cooler winter months before harvest during February and March.
There are no official production statistics, but state excise data, where available, coupled with
industry estimates give a fairly reliable indication of recent production levels. Excise data from
Karnataka indicate that the state produced 2.9 million liters (322,200 cases) during Indian fiscal
year (IFY April/March) 2010/2011 and 3.2 million liters (355,500 cases) during IFY 2011/12.
Excise data from the Sangli area of Maharashtra indicate that production was 641,000 liters
(71,200 cases) in IFY 2010/11 and 233,000 liters (25,900 cases) in IFY 2011/12. Industry
sources estimate total wine production at 11.5 million liters from 2,000 hectares of grapes in
2012. This estimate is consistent with an estimated grape yield of 10 metric tons per hectare and
a standard liquid yield of 570 liters per ton of grapes. The main varieties cultivated in India are
Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay
and Ugni Blanc.
Governments in the producing states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa have taken steps to
support the domestic wine industry by reducing or eliminating excise duties on wines produced
in state, easing distribution restrictions and providing fiscal incentives to establish wineries and
vineyards. These states have also imposed stiff excise taxes on imported wines and wines from
other states. In addition, Maharashtra has eased the licensing requirement and regulations for
establishing wineries and wine retail outlets and established two wine industrial parks to
facilitate investment in the industry.
Domestic Wine Production Drops
After a decade of steady growth, wine production dropped from 13.0 million liters in 2010 to an
estimated 11.0 million liters (1.2 million cases) in 2011 and improved to 11.5 million liters (1.3
million cases) in 2012. India‘s Grape Processing Board, an industry trade association, indicates
that there are 72 wineries in India. However, a third or more of these wineries are not producing
or producing below capacity. Some wineries have abandoned their brands and are selling grape
juice to larger wineries for further processing.
The industry is hopeful that production will increase in 2013 and annual growth will resume,
albeit at a slower pace. One winery has established itself as the industry leader and accounts for
an estimated 50-60 percent of production and sales. A few large corporations have made small
investments in the industry. Industry sources indicate that there are 10 larger or corporate
wineries and the balance are smaller independent wineries with the capacity to produce 100,000
to 500,000 liters annually, some of which are operating below capacity and/or producing juice
for larger wineries. Wineries are working to diversify their income through tourism, restaurants
and marketing strategies based on direct mailing, wine of the month clubs and other direct-to-
consumer outreach. Gross sales of domestic wine are estimated at $40 million (Rs. 2.0 billion).
With time, corporate investment and successful larger wineries could help to expand the market
for wines and create better opportunities for the industry as a whole.
Several factors appear to have contributed to lower wine production during 2011 and 2012.
Some of these issues can be addressed with alternate marketing or production strategies while
others are persistent policy or structural issues that are likely to hamper the industry for the
ξ A number of wineries focused on developing dry European-style wines. However, many
Indian consumers prefer sweeter, less-expensive wines with a higher alcohol content.
Consequently, some wineries are now working to change their strategy by developing
sweeter wines with an emphasis on low-margin, higher-volume sales. Wineries are hopeful
that the inexpensive wines will expand the wine market and eventually lead consumers to
ξ A drop in tourism following the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November of 2008 resulted in
reduced demand for wine just as many wineries were expanding their operations. As a
result, some wineries were left with stocks of unsold wine weighing on their balance sheets.
Large wine stocks led to reduced demand for grapes and a significant reduction in wine
grape prices during 2009 and 2010. Wineries only produce an estimated 15 percent of their
own grapes and source the balance of their grape supply from local farmers. When demand
slowed, wine grape prices dropped, prompting farmers to replace their wine grapes with
higher yielding table grapes or other crops. According to some estimates, wine grape area
has dropped from 3,600 hectares to 2,000 hectares over the past four years. The industry is
encouraging farmers to work more closely with wineries to better inform future planting
ξ High land costs and state-level ―land ceiling‖ laws that limit the size of farms make it
difficult for wineries to own enough land to produce their own grapes.
ξ India‘s complex state excise taxes and label registration fees afford producers a high level of
protection from imported wine or wine produced in other states, but make it very costly,
especially for smaller wineries, to market their wines outside the state of production. Some
larger wineries have merged or started producing wine in both Maharashtra and Karnataka
in an effort to tap markets in India‘s two largest wine-producing states without having to
ship wine between the two states.
ξ Smaller wineries have difficulty attracting distributors for their brands. There are relatively
few wine distributors in India and most carry wines produced by the larger wineries and
have limited interest in carrying wines from smaller wineries.
ξ India‘s laws effectively prohibit the advertising of alcoholic beverages, leaving wineries
with limited options for promoting their products to consumers.
ξ A 20 percent devaluation in the rupee over the past year has increased the cost of imported
equipment and inputs such as cork, bottles and other inputs sourced from abroad.
Production, Trade and Availability
The following tables are an attempt to quantify the supply and demand situation for the Indian
wine sector. Stock and consumption data are not available and estimates vary widely. Hence,
the analysis in this table is limited to an estimate of ―domestic availability‖ which combines
stocks and consumption to arrive at an estimate of the amount of wine that is available for
Table 1. India - Domestic Availability of Wine (1,000 liters)
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Production \1 4,725 5,850 8,550 11,250 11,700 12,600 13,000 11,000 11,500
Imports \2 874 1,421 1,836 3,067 3,307 1,795 2,551 4,439 4,400*
Annual Supply 5,599 7,271 10,386 14,317 15,007 14,395 15,551 15,439 15,900
Exports \2 280 483 752 1,050 1,732 2,093 696 1,114 1,100*
Domestic Availability 5,319 6,788 9,634 13,267 13,275 12,302 14,855 14,325 14,800
1\ FAS Mumbai estimates, includes an estimated 300,000 liters of port wine produced in the State of Goa
2\ Official data from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, for Harmonized Tariff Schedule code
*Based on the annualized rate of respective 2012 exports and imports through August of 740,000 liters
and 2.9 million liters.
Table 1a. India - Domestic Availability of Wine (1,000 cases)
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Production \1 525 650 950 1,250 1,300 1,400 1,444 1,222 1,277
Imports \2 97 158 204 340 367 199 283 493 488*
Annual Supply 622 808 1,154 1,590 1,667 1,599 1,727 1,715 1,766
Exports \2 31 53 84 116 192 232 77 123 122*
D omestic Availability 590 755 1,070 1,474 1,475 1,366 1,650 1,592 1,644
1\ FAS Mumbai estimates, includes an estimated 33,300 cases of port wine produced in the State of Goa
2\ Official data from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, for Harmonized Tariff Schedule code
*Based on the annualized rate of respective 2012 exports and imports through August of 82,200 cases
and 322,200 cases.
A Small Wine Culture Develops
India is the world‘s largest whisky market and has over 200 million consumers of hard liquor,
most of whom are men. Indian consumers prefer and are accustomed to drinks with relatively
high levels of alcohol, putting wine at a disadvantage. In addition, large numbers of Indians do
not drink alcohol for religious reasons. Wine, other than Goan Port and homemade wine, was
largely unavailable to all but a few Indian consumers until recently. A small but enthusiastic
group of wine producers, educators and consumers is working to increase the consumption of
wine among drinkers of hard liquor as well as attract new consumers of alcoholic beverages.
Women have traditionally shunned alcoholic beverages, but represent a potential new market for
the wine industry. In addition, 100 million consumers will reach the legal drinking age of 25 (in
most states) over the next five years.
The Indian wine drinking community is estimated at two million consumers who, along with
expatriates and foreign tourists, will drink an estimated 10 million liters of domestic wine, three
million liters of imported wine and 300,000 liters of port in 2012 for a total of 1.5 million cases.
There are numerous media reports and studies that indicate the Indian wine market has grown at
heady rates over the past few years. However, the data in Table 1 indicate that the availability of
wine for consumption has hovered in the range of 12.3-14.9 million liters since 2007, suggesting
that there has been, at best, limited growth in consumption over the past six years.
Wine drinkers are drawn largely from the estimated 20 million upper income consumers (two
percent of the population). These consumers tend to have rising levels of disposable income,
greater exposure to foreign foods through travel and a willingness to try new products. Other
factors bode well for the development of the wine market such as high levels of education, a
young population and fluency in English. A growing awareness of health issues is causing some
consumers to switch to wine from drinks with higher alcohol content. In Delhi and Mumbai,
serving wine at dinner events is becoming more common and wine consumption is considered a
sign of status for some. Given high costs, imported wines are typically consumed on special
occasions or given as gifts. Red wine is the most popular wine, accounting for 45 percent of
consumption, followed by white wine at 40 percent, sparkling wine at 10-15 percent and rose at
Wine is primarily an urban drink and the states of Maharashtra (home to Mumbai) and
Karnataka (home to Bengaluru), the Delhi metro area and the tourist destination of Goa account
for an estimated 75 percent of wine consumption. The states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Punjab,
Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are the next largest consuming areas, but
consumption levels are low.
Retail and Sales Options
An estimated 50 percent of wine is sold through restaurants, bars, hotels and pubs. Hotels ranked
at three stars and above and some restaurants have the ability to acquire wine (and other products
ranging from equipment to food) free of federal tariffs (hotels are still subject to excise taxes and
other local fees) based on the amount of their hard currency earnings. The number of four and
five star hotels is increasing and travel for both tourism and business is robust. Unfortunately,
hotels do not typically pass the savings (from not paying the federal tariff) on to consumers
because they use the margins to cover the high cost of obtaining and maintaining alcohol
licenses. If hotels were able to pass these tariff savings on, they could serve as a gateway to
introducing consumers to quality affordable wines. Hotels typically rely on local importers and
distributors for their supplies, but will occasionally make recommendations to importers based
on direct contact with wineries or import directly. Hotels tend to operate on annual contracts
with specific suppliers and some have centralized procurement operations. Only a few hotel
chains have sommeliers. There are a few local wine academies that provide training to hotel staff
and others interested in learning more about wine.
Retail accounts for the bulk of the balance of wine sales. Traditionally, wine has been sold
through thousands of small ―wine shops‖ which are essentially liquor stores carrying a range of
alcoholic beverages. These stores rarely have air conditioning and do not market wine or other
beverages beyond carrying signage or other promotional materials. Additionally, acquiring a
retail license can be difficult and expensive, which limits the opportunity to open new stores
thereby restricting growth in the retail sales channel. Some states and cities (Maharashtra, Goa,
Haryana, Karnataka, and Delhi) have allowed the sale of wine in supermarkets. India‘s modern
retail food industry is beginning to develop and could serve as a new outlet for exposing
consumers to wine. Most modern retailers rely on subcontractors who hold liquor licenses to
operate their wine shops.
A few wineries and importers have developed programs to sell directly to consumers through
wine of the month clubs, subscription services or the internet. These marketing approaches
enable smaller wineries and importers to bypass traditional distribution systems and better target
consumers based on their wine interests.
How fast will the market grow?
It is not clear if the wine market will soon resume the heady growth it enjoyed up until 2007. As
outlined above, there are a number of factors that point to the possibility of future growth.
However, the market for domestic and imported wines is constrained by excise taxes, licensing
processes, complex distribution procedures, poor handling and storage options, competition from
whisky and limited advertising options. Additionally, the domestic industry will have to
encourage potentially skeptical farmers to replant their vineyards if production is going to
expand. Given the continued enthusiasm within the wine community, it seems likely that the
market will expand over the next few years, but at a modest rate. The domestic industry will
likely consolidate further with some smaller wineries leaving the industry. Wine imports have
increased despite a weak rupee over the past year and modest, if variable, growth seems possible
for imported wines within the current policy and domestic supply environment.
Access to reasonably-priced quality wines is considered by some to be the key to speeding the
development of a wine culture in India. Some wineries, instead of producing dry European-style
wines that sell for eight to ten dollars per bottle, are working to produce sweeter wines that sell
for two to three dollars per bottle with higher alcohol content, screw tops, smaller bottles and
convenient packaging. The intent is to better meet the expectations of the Indian palate and
broaden the appeal of wine to more moderate income consumers. Better access to affordable
imported wines would likely help to increase consumer demand for both imported and domestic
Imports on the Rise Again
India‘s wine imports climbed steadily through 2008, reaching 3.3 million liters (367,000 cases),
before dropping to 1.8 million liters in 2009 (199,000 cases) following the Mumbai terror
attacks. Imports have increased steadily since then, climbing to a record 4.4 million liters
(493,000 cases) valued at $22 million in 2011. Imports through August of 2012, the most recent
month for which official data are available, had reached 2.9 million liters (322,200 cases), on
pace for 4.4 million liters during 2012.
Some within the industry have questioned the accuracy of India‘s import data provided in Table
2, citing the potential for grey trade, re-exports and shipments that do not clear bonded
warehouses due to inadequate financing or preparation on the part of smaller importers. As a
check, export data from major suppliers are provided in Table 3. Given the issues that some
have raised, the expectation would be for ―export to‖ data to exceed imports and that has been
the case for most years, suggesting that official import data provide a reasonably accurate
measure of the volume of wine entering Indian commerce. However, for 2011, ―export to‖ data
suggest that imports are essentially unchanged from 2010, while the official import data point to
a significant increase in imports. Industry sources had varied opinions about this increase, but
some indicated that they were not surprised by the increase given the growth in their import
France, Italy and Australia are generally the largest exporters of wine to India. Transshipment
and consolidation points such as Singapore, the UAE and the United Kingdom have also
emerged as important suppliers. While there are no preferential tariffs for bulk wines, Indian
wineries also import variable quantities of bulk wine for blending with domestic wines or
bottling in India. Assuming that these wines are marketed as domestic wines, they enjoy the
same state tax benefits as locally produced wine. The European Union is currently engaged in
negotiating a free trade agreement with India. While it is not yet clear if EU wines will gain
preferential access to the Indian market as a result of these negotiations, a significant reduction
in tariffs for EU wines would almost certainly lead to greater imports of wine from the European
A few wineries are working to develop international markets for Indian wine. Exports peaked at
2.1 million liters (232,000 cases) in 2009, but dropped significantly in 2010 and 2011 (see Table
1). Some Indian wines have done well in international competitions and the industry is
beginning to participate in international trade shows. India‘s largest winery has had some
success in the Japanese market and Europe. Exports through August of 2012 had reached
739,000 liters (82,100 cases), on target for exports of 1.1 million liters (122,000 cases) in 2012.
Table 2. Indian Imports from Major Suppliers (1,000 liters)
Exporter 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
1 France 785 971 1,023 566 612 1,318
2 Australia 288 821 568 226 362 422
3 Italy 228 283 305 245 361 399
4 Singapore 6 26 65 130 186 322
5 United Kingdom 109 141 130 97 149 254
6 United States 100 102 129 125 103 245
7 United Arab Emirates 23 20 22 38 24 237
8 Germany 61 36 42 16 54 198
9 South Africa 27 344 605 48 78 147
10 Chile 42 95 97 97 147 147
11 Spain 20 36 88 45 48 69
12 New Zealand 7 39 36 44 37 53
13 Argentina 44 47 28 25 17 18
14 Others 95 106 168 92 372 611
Total 1,836 3,067 3,307 1,795 2,551 4,439
Official data from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, for Harmonized Tariff Schedule
code - 2204
Table 3. Exports to India from Major Suppliers (1,000 liters)
Exporter 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
1 France 881 1,125 906 879 587 640
2 Australia 632 1,335 1,054 451 722 611
3 Italy 255 336 277 191 348 391
4 Chile 104 176 180 143 187 242
5 Singapore 37 26 75 160 215 221
6 United States 135 250 207 135 246 207
7 Spain 62 105 109 95 137 156
8 South Africa 48 516 0 54 152 124
9 United Kingdom 52 45 70 37 44 56
10 Argentina 90 55 41 40 39 50
11 New Zealand 9 25 20 24 36 48
12 Germany 98 118 77 38 78 44
13 Portugal 62 69 60 28 40 40
14 Others 96 5 20 21 14 18
Total 2,559 4,186 3,096 2,295 2,844 2,848
Official country export statistics as reported to the Global Trade Atlas for Harmonized Tariff
Schedule code – 2204
Tariffs, Taxes and Distribution Policies
Licensing, excise and distribution policies for alcoholic beverages, including wine, are the
responsibility of individual states. In addition to a federal import tariff of 150 percent and a
special additional duty of 4 percent, imported wines must grapple with the varied complex
domestic marketing and tax procedures in each state. This report provides a summary of some
of the key issues facing imported wines and examples of some state procedures and policies.
Providing a complete overview of Indian state liquor policies is beyond the scope of this report.
Potential exporters should work closely with their importers to determine the effects of these
policies on the pricing and distribution of their products. Experienced distributors of alcoholic
beverages work through these policies regularly.
A. Federal Tariffs—A Brief History
In April 2001, the federal government allowed the importation of wine for general consumption,
placing it on ―Open General License.‖ Previously, imports were effectively banned aside from a
few exceptions for the tourism industry.
On July 3, 2007, in response to issues raised at the World Trade Organization, the Government
of India removed the additional import duty of 20-75 percent which, depending on the landed
value of the wine, was applied in addition to the base tariff of 100 percent. In turn, the
Government of India raised the import tariff on all wine to 150 percent, equivalent to the bound
level established during the Uruguay Round or the World Trade Organization.
When the federal government established an import tariff of 150 percent in July 2007, it
suggested that state governments could impose excise duties and taxes on imported wines and
liquors similar to the applicable taxes being levied on domestically produced wines and liquors.
B. An Exemption from Federal Tariffs – the ‘Served From India Scheme’ (SFIS)
The 2002-07 Export Import Policy amendment announced on March 31, 2003, allowed hotels
(three stars and above) and other service providers in the tourism sector a duty-free import
entitlement equivalent to five percent of their average foreign exchange earnings over the
preceding three years, subject to minimum average foreign exchange revenue of Rs. 1.0 million
per year ($20,000). The goods imported against the entitlement are meant for in-house
consumption and are strictly nontransferable. The scheme waives the federal tariff of 150
percent, but does not eliminate state excise taxes.
In 2011, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry relaxed the policy slightly, making large firms
and chains eligible for a duty free import entitlement based on the foreign exchange earnings of
at least Rs. 1.0 million ($20,000) in the current financial year in lieu of a three-year average. For
independent restaurants and hotels, the threshold was set at Rs. 500,000 ($10,000).
Hotels and restaurants often use this scheme for products that are subject to high federal tariffs
or are not available in India. Wine is commonly imported under this scheme and, while data are
not widely available, the domestic wine industry maintains that half of all Indian wine imports
take place under this scheme. Imported wine is typically stored in bonded warehouses from
which importers and distributors supply hotels.
C. Food Safety Standards, Labeling and Clearance
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has specified requirements for the
labeling of wine and other alcoholic beverages. This section provides an overview of labeling
and food safety requirements for wine, but should not be viewed as a definitive listing of
requirements. These requirements are subject to change and exporters should work closely with
their importers to ensure that they meet local labeling and food safety requirements. Over the
past two years, FSSAI has repeatedly provided a three-month extension allowing importers of
alcoholic beverages to make specific ―minor‖ labeling changes at the port of entry. The most
recent extension was granted during October 2012 and is valid for three months. See IN2146 for
more details. While there is no official process of approving labels prior to shipment, an
importer may be able to work with a local FSSAI office to obtain feedback concerning a
ξ Addresses -- Current labeling requirements state that the name and addresses of the
producer, importer and bottler must be included on the label. However, some imported
wine has been sold without this information and foreign trade groups have raised concerns
about this provision. This may be simplified in the future.
ξ Dating -- The date of manufacturing or packing is required on the label. This provision is
reportedly under review and may be modified for alcoholic beverages. Best before dating is
not required for wine and liquors. Wine is exempt from the requirement that 60 percent of a
product‘s shelf life remains at the time of import.
ξ Ingredients -- Wine is not specifically mentioned or exempted from the requirement to list a
product‘s ingredients--exporters should work closely with their importers to ensure that they
do not run afoul of ingredient labeling requirements. Alcoholic beverages are exempt from
nutritional labeling. If wine contains additives or preservatives, these products must be
listed. The only specific additive for which a limit has been established is sulphur dioxide
at 450 parts per million.
Department of Consumer Affairs Labeling: FSSAI was formed recently as a centralized food
regulatory authority. However, the Department of Consumer Affairs still has provisions that
govern the food industry. Bottled-in-origin wines are subject to the labeling provisions of the
Standards and Weight and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rule, 1997, when imported into
India. Compliance with this rule should be ensured before the import consignment is cleared by
customs. The labeling declaration on a wine bottle should include:
ξ Name and address of the importer.
ξ Generic or common name of the packaged commodity.
ξ Net quantity in terms of standard units of weights and measures. In the case of wine, the
unit is milliliters or liters.
ξ Month and year in which the commodity was manufactured, packed, or imported.
In addition, the Standards and Weights and Measures (National Standards) Rules, 1988, state
that the alcoholic strength must be declared on the label as a percentage of volume with the
symbol ―% Vol.‖
Import Clearance Procedures: General requirements for the clearance of imported wines
follow. These procedures are subject to change and exporters should work closely with their
importers to make sure that they meet the necessary requirements.
ξ Two Samples for each wine variety or flavor are collected for testing from the first five
consecutive consignments by the FSSAI inspector or, in ports where FSSAI inspectors have
not yet been deployed, the Port Health Officer. Consignments are held until test results are
available. If the test results comply with FSSAI requirements, the shipment is released.
ξ If the first five tests conform to FSSAI requirements following testing at an FSSAI
approved laboratory, the sampling regime may be reduced to 5 to 20 percent of future
consignments. However, importers report that inspectors often continue to sample 100
percent of shipments rather than moving to a reduced sampling regime.
ξ Imports must comply with labeling and packaging requirements.
ξ Imports must also comply with requirements as stipulated by various state governments for
D. Factors Affecting the Distribution of Wine
Once imported wine completes the import clearance process, the importer stores the wine at a
Customs bonded warehouse that is publically or privately owned. Wines may be stored in these
warehouses for up to a year. Storage can be extended for three months subject to the payment of
interest on the unpaid tariffs. If the wines are sold under the SFIS scheme to a hotel or
restaurant, they are released from the warehouse free of the federal tariff of 150 percent. If the
wines are sold to retailers or other firms that do not participate in the SFIS scheme, they pay the
federal tariff before entering Indian commerce. The importer or distributor (most importers are
also distributors) now begins the process of moving the wine through the distribution, licensing
and excise systems that vary by state. A discussion of some of the key factors affecting wine
distribution along with a discussion of some state-specific requirements follows.
Storage: Imported wines and all other alcoholic beverages must be stored in a government-
approved bonded warehouse or excise department bonded warehouse. Importers can keep the
imported wine in an excise approved warehouse after paying the import duty. Wines can be
released from the bonded warehouse for distribution only after the distributor meets all the
mandatory requirements of the state where they plan to market the product.
Licenses: Licensing procedures vary by state; some states prohibit the sale of alcohol, some ban
the sale of alcoholic beverages and others have state-run monopolies that control the distribution
of alcohol. In general, importers, distributors, retailers, restaurants and hotels must have a
license to handle alcoholic beverages. In some states, licenses are further delineated to allow for
things like room service sales of alcohol. Licenses are typically subject to annual renewal fees.
State licensing and distribution structures are outlined in the Table 4.
Table 4: State Licensing and Distribution Structures
Structure Description States
Open Markets A business may apply for a license at a set fee, Maharashtra, West Bengal,
provided that licenses are available. In some states Goa, Assam, Meghalaya,
new licenses have not been available for many Arunachal and Tripura
Auction Licenses are auctioned to the highest bidder. Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan,
Markets Madhya Pradesh, Bihar,
Punjab, Haryana and
Government The government controlled markets have different Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Kerala,
Controlled models. Karnataka is the most open state, with the Andhra Pradesh and
lowest trade margins. Whereas, in Delhi, Kerala and Karnataka.
Tamil Nadu retail shops are run by the state
Prohibition Sales of alcohol are prohibited Gujarat, Manipur,
States Mizoram and Nagaland.
Brand/Label Registration: Importers or distributors are required to register the brand (and
label in some cases) with the state excise department for marketing the brand and/or label in the
state. The state excise department charges a fixed registration fee, and the registration has to be
renewed every year. In some states, importers are also required to declare the maximum retail
price (MRP) for the wine at the time of registration.
At the time of registration, the state excise department provides guidelines on specific labeling
requirements for sale. State specific labeling regulations may include:
1. ‗Alcohol Consumption is Injurious to Health‘ in English (and local language in some states)
2. ‗For Sale in the state of xxxxxxx only‘.
3. Maximum Retail Price (MRP) Rs. xxx.xx only.
Transport Permits: After receiving an order from a licensed buyer, the licensed distributor
applies for a transport permit from the excise department. Permits are typically issued after
payment of state excise tax, sales tax (value added tax) and other applicable taxes.
Advertising: The Government of India has banned direct and surrogate (sponsorship of events)
advertising promoting the consumption of liquor including wine. Most liquor and wine
promotions are done through on-premise promotions such as wine tastings, sponsorship of small
cultural event and point-of-sale promotions.
Excise, State Fees and other Taxes: Each of India‘s 28 states and eight union territories wields
considerable control over the taxation, marketing, storage and distribution of alcoholic beverages
including wines. As noted in Table 4, four states ban the sale of alcoholic beverages
completely. Excise revenue from sales of alcohol is an important source of revenue (in some
states it is the major source) for funding state-level projects and services. Revenue from sales of
hard liquor is the primary target of state tax regulators, but wine is often subject to the same
requirements as other alcoholic beverages.
The domestic wine industry says that 50 percent of all imported wine enters India duty free (The
wine enters under the SFIS scheme detailed above.), which may well be accurate in so far as it
relates to the federal tariff of 150 percent. However, in many states, especially producing states,
imported wines are subject to stiff excise taxes or maximum retail pricing (MRP) requirements
that increase the cost of wine significantly. Domestic wines are subject to the same
requirements except in some wine producing states. While bilateral efforts to lower India‘s
federal tariff could help to improve market access for imported wine, changes in federal tariffs
could be countered by changes in state excise policy.
Summaries of fees and costs for key consuming states follow. These are not complete
summaries of the fees and procedures facing imported wine and additional taxes and fees may be
applied. For more information, readers can visit state websites by following the hyperlinks
associated with each state name at the start of its respective paragraph. Exporters should work
closely with their importers and distributors to ascertain how these fees will affect the retail
value of their wines.
A. Karnataka: The Karnataka State Beverages Corporation Limited (KSBCL) is the state-run
monopoly distributor. Under the present excise policy, all manufacturers, suppliers and
importers who want to sell alcoholic beverages in Karnataka, whether produced in state or
elsewhere, must sell through the KSBCL. Similarly, all retailers, restaurants and hotels have to
purchase from KSBCL. The KSBCL has fixed its margin at 0.5 percent and the retailer margin
at 10 percent. KSBCL also charges the importer seven percent of the landed cost as a
distribution fee and an import fee is charged per bulk liter (See table 5). The label registration
fee for imported wine is Rs. 10,000 ($192) per year. Fees are reduced for wines produced in
Table 5: Federal Tariff and Excise Calculation for the State of Karnataka
= Rs. 52)
A. Supplier‘s Manufacturing cost (MC) per bottle 225
(750 ml) Rs. 300.00 for 1,000 ml bottle
B. Insurance 10
C. Freight 65
D. CIF Assessable Value (A+B+C) 300
Federal Tariff and Fees
E. Customs Landing Charge – 1 percent of (D) 3
F. Federal Tariff, 150 percent of (D+E) 455
G. Special Additional Duty of 4 percent of (D+E+F) 30
H. Clearing Charges 5 percent of (D+E+F+G) 39
I. Warehousing Charges 25
J. Total Cost Ex-Warehouse at Port (D+E+F+G+H+I) 850
State Excise and Fees
K. Excise Tax / Special Fee** - Rs. 47 per bulk liter 35.25
L. Additional Special Fee – Rs. 300 per bulk liter 225
M. Import Fee – Rs. 300 per bulk liter 225
N. KSBCL Margin – 0.5% x (J) 4.25
O. KSBCL Distribution Fee – 7% x (D) 21
P. Retailer Margin – 10% x (J+K+L+M+N+O) 136
MRP = Federal Tariff + Excise Tax + Addl. Special Fee + Import Fee + KSBCL
Margin + KSBCL Distribution Fee + Retailer Margin + Declared Price***
MRP = 455 + 35.25 + 225 + 225 +4.25 + 21+ 136 + 600***
MRP = Rs. 1,700 ($33)
** Excise duty / Special Fee is based on a five slab fee structure
MRP between Rs. 400 & 750 – Rs. 9 per bulk liter
MRP between Rs. 751 & 1,200 – Rs. 15 per bulk liter
MRP between Rs. 1,201 & 2,500 – Rs. 36 per bulk liter
MRP between Rs. 2,501 & 3,000 – Rs. 47 per bulk liter
MRP above Rs. 3,001 – Rs. 49 per bulk liter
*** Declared Price reflects the CIF value of the wine plus any importer margins to cover
overhead, city taxes, sales taxes, label registration costs and other fees.
B. Andhra Pradesh: The Andhra Pradesh Beverages Corporation Ltd. (APBCL) is the
monopoly distributor of alcoholic drinks in the state of Andhra Pradesh. All manufacturers,
suppliers and importers who want to sell alcoholic beverages in Andhra Pradesh, whether
produced in state or outside, must sell through the APBCL. Similarly, hotels, restaurants and
retailers must purchase from the APBCL. The APBCL has fixed its margin at 21 percent for
wines priced up to Rs. 2,000 ($38) per case proof liter and 11 percent for premium wines priced
above Rs. 2,000. Other taxes include a 70 percent sales tax and an excise tax of 22 percent.
C. Maharashtra : Maharashtra is the biggest wine producing and consuming state in the
country. In 2007, when the federal tariff was reduced (see section on the history of the federal
tariff), Maharashtra increased its excise rates significantly. The excise policy was revised again
in 2009 and now follows a three slab fee structure (see Table 6) based on the manufacturing cost
of imported alcohol. The government charges a ―special fee‖ applicable for foreign liquor
(spirits) and wine imports into Maharashtra which is similar to an excise tax on imported liquor.
To promote wine manufacturing, the Government of Maharashtra exempted wines produced in
the state from grapes produced in the state from state excise fees from 2001 to 2011. The
exemption has been extended through 2021 and provides a significant competitive advantage for
wines produced and sold in Maharashtra. However, smaller wine producers often find it
difficult to market their wines outside of the state due to the excise and label registration policies
in other states.
Table 6: Federal Tariff and Excise Calculation for the State of Maharashtra
Rupees ($1.00 = Rs. 52)
A. Supplier‘s Manufacturing cost (MC) per bottle 225
(750 ml) Rs. 300.00 for 1,000 ml bottle
B. Insurance 10
C. Freight 65
D. CIF Assessable Value (A+B+C) 300
Federal Tariff and Fees
E. Customs Landing Charge – 1% x (D) 3
F. Federal Tariff, 150% x (D+E) 455
G. Special Additional Duty of 4% x (D+E+F) 30
H. Clearing Charges 5% x (D+E+F+G) 39
I. Warehousing Charges 25
J. Total Cost Ex-Warehouse at Port (D+E+F+G+H+I) 850
State Excise and Fees
MRP = MC* x 2 + Excise Tax** + Federal Tariff + VAT***
MRP = 600* x 2 + 225 + 455 + 375
MRP = Rs. 2,255 ($43)
* This reflects the importer‘s ―manufacturing cost‖ which is different from the supplier‘s MC
outlined in line A. Importers must build in an additional margin to cover overhead, taxes such
as city octroi, licensing fees and any other costs or fees at this point in the calculation. In this
example, we have selected an additional margin of Rs. 375 which has been added to the
importer‘s manufacturing cost of Rs. 225 for a total of Rs. 600.
** The excise tax or special fee is based on a three slab fee structure which is tied to the MRP.
Importers must estimate an MRP to determine the appropriate fee, which is then added to the
right side of the equation to determine the actual MRP.
MRP up to Rs. 900 – Rs. 400 per bulk liter
MRP between 901 & 6,000 – Rs. 300 per bulk liter
MRP above Rs 6,000 – 5 percent of maximum retail price
***Value Added Tax (VAT) in Maharashtra is 20 percent
D. Delhi: Within the National Capital Territory of Delhi, distribution of alcoholic beverages is
handled by various government-run organizations such as the Delhi Tourism and Transportation
Development Corporation, the Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation, the Delhi State
Civil Supplies Corporation Limited and the Delhi Consumers Cooperative Wholesale Store Ltd.
Permits to bring foreign or domestic wine into Delhi are issued after a distributor has verified
that the special duty, assessment fee and vend fee have been paid. Under the 2012 Delhi Excise
Rule, the licensing fee has been fixed at Rs. 600,000 ($11,538) per year and the label registration
fee for wine at Rs. 5,000 ($96) per label. The city also charges an ―import pass fee‖ of Rs. 5 (10
cents) per bulk liter.
E.Haryana: In Haryana, licenses are issued under auction to the highest bidder. Under the
2012/13 excise policy, the state government has introduced an additional import duty on wine of
Rs. 4 (8 cents) per bulk liter in addition to the applicable excise duty of Rs. 3 ($0.07) per bulk
liter on sweet wines up to 25 degree proof and Rs. 4 ($0.08) per bulk liter on sweet wines above
25 degree proof. The label registration fee is Rs. 10,000 ($192) per brand. For sales volumes
below 10,000 cases in the financial year the license fee is Rs. 1,500,000 ($28,900) per year. For
every subsequent sale of 10,000 cases, the fee is Rs. 1,000,000 ($19,200).
F. Goa: The license fee for wholesale vendors of imported wine is Rs. 25,000 ($480) plus an
application fee of Rs. 5 ($0.10) per bulk liter.
Table 7. Excise Taxes and Label Registration Fees for the State of Goa
Maximum Retail Price Excise Tax on Imported Wines
MRP between Rs. 510 and Rs. 1,100 Rs. 120 per bulk liter
MRP Rs. 1,100 and Rs. 2,000 Rs. 250 per bulk liter
MRP between Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 5,000 Rs. 450 per bulk liter
MRP above Rs. 5,000 Rs. 650 per bulk liter
Label Registration Fee
MRP up to Rs. 500 Rs. 3,000 per label per year
MRP between Rs. 100 and Rs. 500 Rs. 12,000 per label per year
MRP above Rs. 500 Rs. 20,000 per label per year
$1.00 equals Rs. 52
Given the complexity of the domestic excise, licensing and distribution policies, the key to
accessing the Indian market is identifying an experienced importer and distributor. There are
only a few people in India who understand the complexities of wine distribution and a
prospective importer should have staff with experience in this area. A key consideration for an
exporter is understanding how their wines will eventually be priced for sale after all taxes and
fees have been incurred, whether their wines will be sold via retail or the hospitality sector and
how widely their wines will be distributed.
Estimates of the number of wine importers have varied from 50 to 80 over the past few years. A
number of wine enthusiasts reportedly jumped into the business as imports were rising a few
years ago, but some did not have distribution experience and transactions ultimately failed with
volumes of unsold wine stranded in warehouses in some cases. The five largest importers
account for an estimated 60-70 percent of imports, with the balance of active importers, perhaps
30 firms, each handling less than 10,000 cases per year. A number of importers began as
distributors of alcoholic beverages other than wine and have added wine to their portfolios.
Additionally, some Indian wine producers, in an effort to offer a full range of wine options to
their customers, are importing wines that complement their domestic wine production.
The Indian wine market has garnered considerable attention over the past few years with many
touting the rapid growth and imminent expansion of the market. Indian importers indicate that
they receive a steady stream of inquiries from foreign exporters with interest in the Indian
market. Many of the established importers already carry U.S. wines within their portfolios and
prefer not to carry duplicate types of wine from the same country or state. Wineries from new
regions or with new varieties may find greater interest among importers. If imports continue to
grow, importers may begin to seek new brands.
The Office of Agricultural Affairs in Mumbai can provide a list of importers upon request. The
best way to contact us is via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trade Shows and Promotions
Most major wine producing countries are actively promoting their wines in the Indian market,
either via trade associations or individual firms. Events are usually dinners or wine tastings and
target importers, hotel food and beverage buyers and restaurants. These targeted promotions
can help to expose prospective customers to the wines of a particular country or winery.
Trade shows have also been a popular vehicle for foreign wine exporters in recent years with a
number participating in food shows such as Annapoorna in Mumbai or Fine Food in Delhi.
While trade shows are an important tool in assessing market potential and establishing new
contacts, to get the most out of a visit to India, exporters may want to consider combining a trade
show visit with targeted meetings and/or a separate trade promotion for their wines. Wine
exporter participation in food shows appears to have diminished over the past year. The
following is a list of trade shows that may be of interest to wine exporters.
1. AAHAR International Food and Hospitality Fair - Annual show held during March in New
Delhi, little or no wine exhibitor presence.
2. Annapoorna World of Food India -- Annual show held during September in Mumbai with
limited wine exhibitor presence.
3. Fine Food India -- Annual food show held in New Delhi during December that actively
works to promote wines as part of its show profile
4. Food Hospitality World -- Annual food show held three times a year in Mumbai (January),
Bangalore (June) and Goa (October). The Focus is on the hotel and restaurant sector. Wine
exhibitors have been limited, but the organizers are keen to increase the wine profile.
5. Food and Grocery Forum India -- Annual show generally held during December in Mumbai.
The show does not currently have a wine presence.
6. India Hospitality Expo – Annual food and hospitality show held in Goa in September with
little wine presence.
7. Ind Spirit—Biannual conference and exhibition held during March in Mumbai. The focus is
on all alcoholic beverages including wine.
8. India International Food and Wine Show – Last held in 2009, returning in February 2013 in
Gurgaon outside of Delhi.
9. Mumbai Wine Tasting Festival—Annual show in Mumbai that caters to consumers—more
appropriate for brands with established local distributors.
10. Upper Crust Food and Wine Show - annual show held in Bangalore (September) and
Mumbai (December). The shows are sponsored by ―Upper Crust‖ magazine and cater to
consumers. These shows might be appropriate for companies that are already established in
Points to consider as an approach to the Indian market:
ξ Survey potential opportunities for the wines in the market. The Office of Agricultural
Affairs can assist new exporters in identifying market research firms who can do this
ξ Recognize that India is large and diverse with varying state policies; consider whether you
wish to enter the market by focusing on a particular city or region before expanding
ξ Consider whether you are willing to provide promotional funding to your distributor for
ξ Consider participating in a local food or drink show. Trade show samples are subject to the
same requirements as imported wines and must be imported by someone who holds an
ξ Examine all prospective distributors, and thoroughly research the promising ones through
local industry and trade associations or a market research firm.
ξ Identify importers/agents with an established marketing network among the
hotels/restaurants and retailers in various states.
ξ Recognize that distributors with fewer suppliers may be more adaptable and committed than
larger distributors with multiple brands.
ξ Review the other wines carried by a distributor to avoid potential conflicts of interest with
other companies and countries.
ξ Ensuring payment is another important consideration when establishing a relationship with
an importer. Until a successful working relationship is established, exporters may wish to
consider vehicles such as an irrevocable letter of credit. Alternatively, Indian importers are
accustomed to operating without credit and may be willing to pay cash prior to shipment.
For more information:
The following reports may be of interest to U.S. exporters interested in India. There, and related
reports prepared by this office, can be accessed via the FAS Home Page: www.usda.fas.gov by
clicking on ―Attaché Reports‖ and searching by the report number. Reports given below will
provide additional information to exporters interested in Indian market.
Report Number Subject
IN1104 FSSAI-Towards Implementing Food Safety Standards in India
IN1106 Export Certificate FAIRS Report
IN1186 India: HRI Food Service Sector Annual 2011
IN2059 India‘s Food Retail Sector Growing
IN2163 Exporter Guide Annual 2012
IN2164 Retail Food Sector Report 2012
For additional information, please contact:
Senior Agricultural Attaché
Office of Agricultural Affairs
American Consulate General
C-49, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (E)
Mumbai - 400 051