China recorded a further boost in wine imports in the first nine months of 2015. According to Chinese customs data, there was an increase in bottled wine imports of 38.7% (up to 298 million litres) in volume, and 34.7% in value, hitting 1.4 billion dollars, compared to the same period of the previous year.
Italy in fifth place
Italy takes fifth place among the major suppliers to China of bottled wine: in comparison with 2014, sales volume saw a 23.2% increase, while value increased by only 4.74%, due in large part to the 15% cut in the average price, to 3.67 dollars. A push that is still not quite enough to compete with either the more expensive wines (French, and particularly Australian), or the less expensive (Spain and Chile).
The Australian anomaly
France is still the top supplier, closely followed by Australia. Australian producers already seem to be benefiting from the Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) signed with China in May 2015: they have reported a 58.7% increase in sales volume and an 83.6% increase in sales value, despite their prices being well above the average. This tendency is likely to continue, given that the ChAFTA agreement includes a gradual reduction in Chinese import duties on Australian wines, until they are eventually eliminated in 2019.
Up until the third quarter of 2015, although Australian wine made up 14% of all wine imported into China, it represented 23% of the value of those imports. This is mainly down to the price, as the highest charged by suppliers of wine to China, at an average of 7.71 dollars a litre, an increase of 15.71% over the previous year.
2015 ranking of the main suppliers
France continues to dominate the rankings of countries that export wine to China, with 43% of sales volume and 45% of the value. The average price is 4.91 dollars a litre, 1.56% less than 2014.
After France and Australia, Spain is the third biggest supplier of wine to China, recording an increase in sales volume of 53.84%, but at the cost of a reduction in price, down to 2.07 dollars a litre, a drop of 27.76% on 2014.
Chile takes fourth place, with a 38.34% increase in sales volume and a drop in price to 3.51 dollars a litre, 1.77% less than 2014.
Sparkling wine down, low cost bulk wine up
Despite the healthy growth in bottled wine imports, the sales volume of sparkling wine imports to China are down by 7.2% (to around 10 million litres), while sales value is down by 27.5%, with a 21.9% reduction in the average price, to 4.77 dollars a litre.
Bulk wine imports, however, have doubled, and at just under 100 million litres shows an increase of 100% in sales volume and 50.91% in value: prices fell by a quarter to 0.70 dollars a litre.