Wine imports to China are growing. Australia raises prices and leaps ahead, Italy is the fifth supplier

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In the first nine months of 2015, wine imports to China jumped further. According to Chinese customs data, compared with the same period last year, the import of bottled wines grew in volume by 38.7 percent (touching 298 million liters), and in value by 34.7 percent, reaching $1.4 billion.

Italy fifth in the rankings

Italy is the fifth-largest supplier of bottled wine to China: compared to 2014, sales grew by 23.20 percent in volume, but just 4.74 percent in value, aided by a 15 percent average price cut to $3.67. An effort still insufficient to compete with both more expensive wines (French and especially Australian) and less expensive ones (Spain and Chile).

The Australian anomaly

The ranking of suppliers still sees France in the lead, followed by Australia. Australian producers already seem to be benefiting from the free trade agreement (ChAFTA) signed with China in May 2015. In fact, they mark an increase in sales of 58.7 percent in volume and 83.6 percent in value, although their prices are significantly higher than average. Prospects most likely to improve, given that the ChAFTA agreement provides for a gradual reduction of Chinese duties on Australian wines, until they are reduced to zero in 2019.

Until the third quarter of 2015, Australian wine accounted for 14 percent of all wine imported into China, but 23 percent of the value of those imports. In fact, it is mainly characterized by its price, the highest charged by wine suppliers to China, and amounting to $7.71 per liter on average, up 15.71 percent from the previous year.

The 2015 ranking of major suppliers

In the ranking of countries exporting wine to China, France continues to dominate, accounting for 43 percent of volume and 45 percent of value. The average price is $4.91 per liter, 1.56 percent lower compared to 2014.

After France and Australia, in third place among the largest suppliers of wine to China appears Spain, which marks a 53.84 percent increase in volume, but in exchange for a sharp reduction in the average price, which fell to $2.07 per liter, 27.76 percent less than in 2014.

Chile ranks fourth on the list, with a 38.34 percent increase in volume and a price cut to $3.51 per liter, 1.77 percent less than 2014.

Sparkling wine loses, low-cost bulk grows

In the face of good growth in bottled wine, Chinese imports of sparkling wine fell by 7.2 percent in volume (to around 10 million liters) and 27.5 percent in value, with the average price falling by 21.9 percent to $4.77 per liter.

By contrast, the flow of bulk wine doubled, with just under 100 million liters marking a 100 percent increase in volume and 50.91 percent increase in value: the price actually dropped by a quarter, to $0.70 per liter.