Simone Incontro, General Manager of Veronafiere Asia, soberly warns of a struggling Chinese wine market while outlining a strong pipeline of opportunities in natural and Chinese wines, as the Vinitaly executive gears up for a new B2B wine exhibition to facilitate drinks trade in China on the back of the country’s accelerating recovery.
Speaking to Vino Joy News just two days ahead of Vinitaly and Pacco Communications’ joint Wine to Asia Shenzhen International Wine and Spirits Fair on November 20-21, Incontro admits that China’s wine market is still hobbled by diminished demand due to the coronavirus-induced market caution.
“The market now is struggling. Many distributors closed or they had a big reduction of their business,” he bemoans at the impacts of Coronavirus before adding, “At the same time there are opportunities in this difficult moment. We realized that the market now is asking for new products. What we can see right now the consumer has become more and more important. Natural and fine Chinese wines are becoming a new trend or the ‘brand new’ items in the portfolio of many importers and distributors.”
Responding to these newly emerged market demands, the inaugural Wine to Asia will feature a Living Wine sector to highlight organic, biodynamic and natural wines with over 100 different labels from 30 producers. Chinese wines from Huailai in Hebei province and Marselan grape, hailed as the signature Chinese grape, are going to be closely dissected at the two-day wine fair as well.
“There is more request for sparkling wine, and e-commerce is getting more market share. In our forum in Wine to Asia on November 20, Shanyue Han, Director of Shanghai EMGG Monitoring, will provide very interesting insights about the Chinese wine and spirits consumers’ new trends,” he continued.
This year’s Wine to Asia packed over ten masterclasses and additional seminars. On top of these events, the fair just announced last week that it has partnered with Women Wine & Spirits Award to commend outstanding women working in China’s wine industry today, as well as bringing to light the ethics and social responsibilities facing trade today.
For the inaugural wine fair, Vinitaly broke with tradition and picked Shenzhen instead of the traditionally favored Shanghai, as the organizers see the southern metropolis, situated at the center of over 100 million habitants in Greater Bay area, as “the future of the country.”
“Shenzhen is becoming very soon the key city of the Greater Bay Area. Shenzhen represents the future of this country. And together with Chengdu, I think it is one of the most interesting cities. If you want to start a real business in China, you need to be here. You need to be in this city. Just have a look at the Shenzhen Bay skyline or the companies that have their headquarters in Nanshan District.”
Bullish on Shenzhen’s role in Greater Bay Area and South China, Incontro also reveals the organizers have already set the date for the second edition of Wine to Asia on June 8-10, 2021.
Like fair organizers such as Vinitaly and Pacco Communications, China’s lucrative market has lured in more wine fair organizers in recent years, making it more contested than ever. Comparison is inevitable, but Incontro is quick to dismiss competitions but focus on what Wine to Asia can offer to the trade and buyers.
“We will not compete with any other trade show during our two-days exhibition. And the real difference – and that’s what counts – is our national database of buyers. Beside our database in Guangdong, we have a national database of buyers that we collected with our previous years in China.
“We have three teams in China working in this project and in Italy our social media/communication, Vinitaly brand, IT and trade marketing departments are connecting with China every day. Our roadshow experiences together with Pacco Communication in terms of digital marketing and buyer recruitment will be very useful for our show in Shenzhen. We share different style, different way of works for the same goal: providing a serious B2B platform in the wine and spirits industry.”
Different from previous Vinitaly roadshows or satellite wine fair inside the mega China (Chengdu) Food and Drinks Fair, where its focus was singularly on Italy, Wine to Asia is an international wine fair attracting different countries of origins.
“Of course as Veronafiere, organiser of Vinitaly, we have Italian DNA but actually Wine to Asia is a result of a Joint Venture between between a 120-year trade show company from Italy, Veronafiere, and a young Shenzhen-based company that has been successful in Chengdu, Shenzhen Pacco,” he explains, adding that Veronafiere also organizes Wine South America in Brazil every year.
As a result, some of the highlights this year are beyond Italy. They include what the organizer calls “the largest and richest (in content) pavilion of Rioja in South part of China” led by Jose Chicot, and a pavilion by Wines of Chile where the association’s Asia director Nicolai Samsing will introduce for the first time in China the new concept of “Sparkling Wine from Chile”, in addition to a vast array of natural wines and Chinese wines from Huailai including Amethyst, Domaine Franco-Chinois, Martin Vineyard, Shi Bai Pian and SunGod.
In total over 150 exhibitors have signed up to the wine fair and over 10,000 buyers are expected to attend the two-day event in Shenzhen Intercontinental OCT Shenzhen Hotel
More information about the wine fair can be found here.