China feted at wine and spirits trade fair

19th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

BORDEAUX, France, June 18, 2007 (AFP) - China, expected to join the world's top 10 wine-drinking nations in 2010, won a special toast as the world's biggest wine and spirits trade fair, Vinexpo, opened on Monday.

BORDEAUX, France, June 18, 2007 (AFP) - China, expected to join the world's top 10 wine-drinking nations in 2010, won a special toast as the world's biggest wine and spirits trade fair, Vinexpo, opened on Monday.

Guest of honour, an indication of the importance of the emerging Chinese market, was Timothy Tong, Commissioner of Customs and Excise for Hong Kong, who noted that Chinese wine consumption had risen from 3.35 million hectolitres in 2001 to 4.10 million in 2005,

It is is expected to reach 5.58 million by 2010.

Indicating the potential market for imported wines, Tong said they currently represent just 5.6 per cent of Chinese consumption.
 
Exports of imported wine to other parts of Asia, via Hong Kong, have also surged, Tong said, by 120 per cent from 1.3 million hectolitres in 2005 to 2.9 million in 2006.

A survey carried out for Vinexpo 2007 by the London-based International Wine and Spirit Record (IWSR) predicts the entry of China and Russia, at 10th and 8th place, among the world's top 10 wine consuming nations in 2010, and the emergence of America as the world's number one.

The survey also estimated that global wine sales will increase 45 percent by 2010 and production by 41 percent.

Tong also referred to the recent halving of duty on wines imported into Hong Kong, as of February this year, from 80 per cent, to 40 per cent.

France's newly-appointed Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Christine Lagarde, congratulated French winemakers on an excellent year for exports in 2006, again emphasising their importance as French domestic consumption has declined.

"Wine is doing well with 7.7 billion euros of export profit last year, the equivalent of 150 Airbus planes," she said.

However, she added that French wine needed to modernize and restructure to become more consumer focused. "We have to get out of the tight spot we are in, our offer is too confusing," she said.

"At Vinexpo 2005, French wines had experienced six years of falling export sales," said Lagarde, who took over a month ago. "2006 saw a reversal of that trend, with exports up 11.4%."

Although the official opening took place Monday, the show was already in full swing Sunday, with wine tastings the number one activity. Although in theory tasting means spitting, plenty of wine inevitably finds its way down throats -­ turning the event into a sort of ongoing drinks party.

First time exhibitors to Vinexpo this year include Barbados, Croatia and Slovakia.

On the Slovakian stand, where two German buyers were tasting wine samples, Ratislav Kacmarik, export manager for St Nicolaus, said he had already sold samples of a herb liqueur called Demnovka to Greek, Canadian, French, Australian and South African clients.

"There are already lots of people coming to the stand," he said.

On the South African stand, however, the 20 exhibitors were coming to terms with the fact that their wine samples were stuck in French customs and would not make it to the show.

"This is a disaster," said Dalene Steyn of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), the national body.

This year's Vinexpo, which will run until Thursday this week, is the biggest since it started in 1981, with an estimated 50,000 visitors and 2,4000 exhibitors from 144 different countries.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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