|As the smallest alcoholic drinks category across Asia-Pacific, wine represents the biggest opportunity for global producers. This market segment has grown from a marginal 3.30 m litres in 2000 to 3.75 m litres in 2005 and is worth US$ 35.9 m today.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the French with their atomic wine weapon ‘Vinexpo‘ chosen the sixth overseas exhibition to be held in the inaugural city of Hong Kong where the first took place in 1998.
Over three days the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center hosted just under 600 producers from more than 28 countries from around the globe and catered for over 6,500 visitors. An estimate of 40 percent of visitors were from Hong Kong and Macao and the remaining from the rest of Asia. Read Dr Ariff Jamal’s report below.
More than 300 television, radio, newspaper and magazine journalists from all over Asia covered the event and over 60,000 bottles of wine were tasted during the three days.
The extensive programme of ‘Vinexpo University’ tastings, conference, seminars and soirees staged in conjunction with the event were well attended, proving especially popular.
Besides being centrally placed in Asia, Hong Kong remains the hub of distribution for the region and is the door opener for the Chinese market which has seen an exponential growth and which looks to continue. It accounted for 500 m bottles of wine consumed in the year 2005 and offers a potential growth of 760 m bottles by the year 2010 keeping wine producers worldwide focused on this market.
Japan is now considered a traditional market and falls in line with other such markets in Europe and the USA. One fast up coming market for wines is the Philippines. This is due to the widened distribution through supermarkets and discount shops, which has also led to gradual changes in consumer perception of grape wine as a mass-market product rather then as an exclusive, luxury product.
Among the Chinese producers exhibiting on their home territory were Beijing Dragon Seal, Dynasty Fine Wines Group Ltd and various other national importers.
India’s renowned Chateau Indage was also present, with a full team and were proud to show their new vintage and, in particular, their Decanter award winner which tasted well and attracted numerous wine fans.
Many other wine-producing countries hosted national pavilions presenting the diversity of their regional wines. The US was represented by a California Pavilion organized by the Wine Institute of California. Wine-makers from Argentina and Chile were also present, along with South African producers such as Rupert & Rothschild and Springfield Estates. Australian exhibitors included Cape Mentelle, Green Point Vineyards and Tisdall, while from New Zealand there were stands from Cloudy Bay and Clos Henri among others.
Vinexpo Chief executive Mr. Robert Beynat noted, “Vinexpo will most likely return to Asia in 2008 as annual wine consumption in Asia is estimated to rise to 780 million litres worth over US$ 5 billion by 2008 – with the strongest growth in China.”
Asia is also the world’s most important market for spirits and accounts for nearly 57% of the global consumption.