Following the cancellation of Hong Kong’s Wine and Dine Festival, Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair (HKIWSF) will still power on with over 1,000 exhibitors from over 20 countries confirmed to attend.
The participating countries for this year’s edition suffered a slight drop from last year’s 30-strong countries, based on the official figures released by the organiser, partly due to monthslong anti-government protests that deterred tourists and business.
Speaking at a press conference held on October 15 to introduce the 2019 Wine & Spirits Fair, Benjamin Chau, Acting Executive Director of the HKTDC, is still bullish on Hong Kong’s appeal to international wine traders.
“Following the decision by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to eliminate all duty-related customs and administrative controls on wine in 2008, Hong Kong’s wine industry underwent a rapid boom. The total value of wine imports surged from HK$1.6 billion in 2007 to HK$12 billion in 2018, an increase of more than 700%,” he explains.
“The satisfactory growth in local demand signals a positive outlook for the local wine industry. Today, Hong Kong has evolved into the region’s principal wine trading and distribution hub, and the city continues to be a gateway for wines to enter the mainland market,” he continues.
In addition to wine trading and distribution, other wine-related businesses including auctions, retailing, warehousing, catering and transportation are well established in Hong Kong. Since 2009, Hong Kong has also become one of the world’s largest wine auction centres, with auctions sales reaching US$133 million in 2018 – the second highest in the world.
According to Statista, the demand for wines in the Asian and Mainland Chinese markets continues to grow. The market research agency forecasts that between 2019 and 2023, wine sales in Asia will grow at 4% per annum. A report from Euromonitor International, meanwhile, revealed that consumers in Hong Kong are seeking new tastes and high-quality alcoholic beverages.
The 2019 Wine & Spirits Fair will feature some 20 international group pavilions from wine-producing regions, trade organisations and governmental bodies looking to promote their quality products.
This year, Japan’s Tottori Prefecture will host its debut pavilion at the fair, while the pavilions from the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) will all expand in scale. Additionally, a Craft Beer Pavilion will be launched as part of the broader Beer zone, with an assortment of quality craft beers, including several from Hong Kong breweries, on display.
In addition to liquor and beverages, the Wine & Spirits Fair also features the Whisky and Spirits zone, the Beer zone, the World of Olive Oil zone and various zones that promote the industry’s all-round development, including Wine Education, Wine Accessories, Equipment and Services and Wine Investment. Food-pairing products, meanwhile, will be showcased in the Friends of Wine zone.
The Asia Wine Academy will return to this year’s fair as well. This year, the Academy will feature Lu Yang, the world’s first Chinese Master Sommelier, and Jeannie Cho Lee, Master of Wine, who will host a session entitled “Looking into Variations of Cabernet”.
Some 60 events will be organised during the Wine & Spirits Fair, including Think Like An Insider series organised by WWXplorer and HKTDC. The first section of the series will look at wine investment, followed by a second section on opportunities and challenges on China’s wine market.
One of the wine industry’s signature events, the 11th Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition Award Presentation Ceremony will be held during the Cocktail Reception on the first night.