World wine trade buoyed by rebound in China demand

Mon Apr 18, 2016 11:16am EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - Wine exporters toasted an upturn in Chinese wine consumption in 2015 after a two-year decline, as a growing taste there for reds helped global wine trade expand, the International Vine and Wine organisation (OIV) said on Monday.

Chinese imports jumped 44 percent to 5.5 million hectoliters, while overall consumption in the country grew by 3 percent to nearly 16 million hectoliters.

"Chinese domestic demand was the single biggest contributor, in volume terms, to growth in trade in 2015," the OIV said in a report.

A decrease in consumption in 2013 and 2014 had been attributed to a government crackdown on lavish gifts.

Last year's growth showed the enduring popularity of red wine among middle-class Chinese, drawn by what they see as a status symbol also offering health benefits, OIV Director General Jean-Marie Aurand said at a news conference in Paris.

The recovery in demand suggested that a de-stocking phase in the Chinese market was over, he said.

The improved trend in China, the world's fifth largest wine consumer, helped global trade rise by nearly 2 percent in volume to 104.3 million hectoliters, and by 10.6 percent in value terms to 28.3 billion euros ($32.0 billion), the OIV said.

The continuing shift towards wine in China has also led the country to rapidly expand its vineyards. Last year, the country reinforced its position as the world's second-largest grower by area after Spain.

China had edged ahead of France in 2014 in area cultivated, and added another 34,000 hectares last year to reach 830,000 hectares, although its production fell to 11.0 million hectoliters from 11.6 million. [L8N0XO2NQ]   Continued...

A sales assistant stands in front of shelves displaying imported wines at a supermarket in Shanghai, China, October 29, 2015.  REUTERS/Aly Song