NZ wine industry targets China for growth

Fri Jul 2, 2010 2:48am EDT
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By Adrian Bathgate

WELLINGTON (Reuters Life!) - New Zealand wine makers are racing against rivals to stake a spot in what is set to be the world's fastest growing market - China. The Chinese market for grape-based wines is currently small but expected to grow rapidly, fueled by the fast-growing middle-class and younger generations who are increasingly adopting western consumption habits.

Red wine varieties are the dominant import in China, but white wines, such as New Zealand's noted Sauvignon Blanc, are picked to play an important part in the market as it develops.

Australian-based wine industry consultant Lawrie Stanford said China's wine market is estimated to grow by around 30 percent over the next three years, and over the next decade it will be the fastest growing market in the world.

"Dedication to that market will yield benefits, without a doubt, but it will take time and it will take a lot of effort."

Currently China consumes 0.7 liters of wine per person a year, against 20-25 liters in mature wine markets, Stanford said.

"France has been there for several decades and they have the drop on most other wine-producing nations," he said.

The New Zealand industry has identified China, North America and northern Europe as the markets with the best opportunities, with the government last month promising to finance promotion and marketing for New Zealand wines in those regions.

New Zealand Winegrowers Chief Executive Philip Gregan said now is the time to look at getting established as the market is in a formative stage, warning every major exporter has their sights fixed on China.   Continued...