China’s wine market in 2019 suffered a huge blow as latest figures released by the country’s drinks trade body showed that wine imports during the year slipped to the lowest level since 2017, as a result of the country’s slowing economy and US-trade war.
The data also added more fears for importers and merchants in mainland China who are struggling to survive amid the fast-spreading COVID-19 epidemic.
The country during the year imported 612.4 million litres of wine valued at US$2.43 billion, which represents a year on year drop of 11% in volume and 14.8% drop in value, according to the latest data released by the China Association of Imports and Exports of Wine & Spirits (CAWS).
In 2016, China’s wine import value stood at US$2.36 billion and the valued grew to US$2.79 billion in 2017. But the growth was eclipsed by the country’s slowing economy and intensifying trade tensions between China and the US, the world’s two biggest economies, which together slowed down the country’s wine imports to US$2.85 billion in 2018.
Australia surpassed France for the time during the year to become China’s biggest source for imported wines. It now accounts for 35.5% of market share. Its import volume however declined by 10.6% to 147 million litres, while its value grew by 10.6% to US$864 million, one of the only two countries among the top 10 that managed to see growth, with the other being Portugal.
France’s import volume dropped by over 19% while value slid further by 35% compared with the previous year.
Chile came in third with both volume and value down by 8% respectively.
Italy ranked as China’s fourth biggest importer, up by 3.1% in volume but down by 7.33% in value. This is followed by Spain, the US, Argentina, Portugal, South Africa and Germany.
The association noted a rebound in December after a downward trend throughout the first 11 months, mainly because of a pre-emptive purchasing for China’s biggest holiday the Spring Festival in late January.
But with the fast-spreading coronavirus that placed an estimated 760 millions of Chinese under lockdown in late January and February, wine imports and sales virtually grounded to a halt, adding fear for a far worse 2020 ahead for the country’s wine industry.
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