China Food and Drinks Fair in Chengdu (pic: stock image)

China Food and Drinks Fair in Chengdu (pic: stock image)

Will China's biggest wine and spirits fair in March roar back with vengeance or tank?

China’s biggest wine and spirits trade fair has set its date on March 25-27, after cancelling the fair in 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic, and promises a roaring comeback with largest exhibition space yet to “seek new opportunities”.

The 104th edition China Food and Drinks Fair or commonly known as Chengdu Wine and Spirits Fair will kick off in Southwest China’s Chengdu in both offline and online format after first experimenting with digital fair last May.

The fair on average would welcome 150,000 trade visitors each year and generate around RMB 20 billion (US$3.17 billion) in sales. It is considered arguably the most important wine and spirits fair inside mainland China for its sheer visitor number and scale.

The three-day wine fair at Western China (Chengdu) International Expo City accompanied by satellite wine fairs in different hotels dotted in Chengdu will expand its exhibition space to over 215,000 square meters, the biggest floor plan yet since its inception in 1995, according to the organizer.

Expanded floor plan of the upcoming China Food and Drinks Fair (Pic: China Food and Drinks Fair)

The theme this year is to “promote sustainability and seek new opportunities” in what seems like local government and drinks industry’s joint efforts to rejuvenate the country’s alcohol trade after a year of tepid consumer demand hampered by the pandemic and later pandemic-induced complications.

Despite getting the pandemic largely under control in the second quarter of last year, demand for wine in particular still lags far behind in the country. Cautious spending spurred by uncertainties of the pandemic domestically and internationally in key wine producing countries suppressed trade’s sentiment to restock.

Chengdu, China: People sitting on bamboo chairs and having tea in People’s park famous HeMing teahouse with sunrays in the background. (pic: stock image)

As a result, the country’s wine imports in the first nine months of 2020 dropped 30.8% in volume year on year, according to data released by Chinese research company ASKCI.

The sharply escalated China-Australia relations later in the year put wine trade in a panic mood, adding more uncertainties, promoting merchants to either stockpile Australian wine or seek replacement outright.

One trade fair certainly won’t encapsulate all the dynamism in Chinese wine market. However, the mood and sentiment at the upcoming Chengdu wine fair will no doubt shed some lights on whether wine trade has recovered and if there’s a new wine category that’s posing to replace Australia’s lucrative wine share in China.

We will find out more in March.

Read more:

Guide to Chengdu’s wine scene

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