China wine imports (pic: iStock)

Wine imports in China are dropping (pic: istock image)

China's wine market has yet to get its mojo back and consumer sentiment for wine is still cautious, as the latest data showed.

It looks like it will take longer-than-expected time for China’s wine market to get its mojo back.

The latest data released by Chinese research firm Huaon after compiling Chinese customs figures showed that China’s wine imports in the first 11 months of the year still continued a downward slide despite the country being among the first to contain the coronavirus spread.

In volume terms, imports dipped by 29.7% to 423 million liters, while value declined 22.8% to US$2.47 billion, signaling that consumer sentiment for wine is still cautious.

Wine imports in China in the first 11 months of 2020 suffered close to 30% drop. (pic: stock image)

However, close examination of month by month figures showed that from September onwards, the country’s monthly import value has gradually climbed and entered positive territory. December data is not yet released.

In September as we have reported, the declined tapered to only 1.4%, and in October import value increased for the first time by 14% and in November again it rose by a moderate 0.4%.

The growth rings optimism for the wine market going into 2021, as the country now remains one of the safest places in the world while most countries are still reeling from the pandemic.

But as most speculated the growth was largely fueled by wine merchants’ panic buying of Australian wines before China announced devastating punitive tariffs as much as 212.1% on Australian wines in late November.

The shocking turn of escalation would most likely force merchants in mainland China to gradually phase out Australian wines now that costs are stacked against them.

Australian bulk wine at this stage is safe as we have previously reported.

It’s worthy to note that China’s wine imports have been declining since 2018, due to trade war with US and the country’s slowing economy. In 2020, the pandemic accelerated the decline.

Even if growth returns in 2021, wine trade should reasonably adjust their expectation.

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