Perhaps no other leading wine markets had experienced a sharp contraction of wine consumption as big as China had seen last year during the pandemic.
The world’s top 5 wine markets (US, France, Italy, Germany and UK ) all held their own and reported stable and positive growth in wine consumption despite the pandemic, based on data released by OIV this week. China though the sixth biggest wine consumer in the world, suffered a 17.4% drop, consequentially dragging down global wine consumption last year by 3%, according to OIV.
“The strict lockdown measures in the first quarter of the year certainly played a role. However, considering that this is a sharp decline for the third consecutive year, the rapid growth in wine consumption that started at the beginning of the century seems at its end,” OIV explains in its latest State of the World Vinicultural Sector in 2020.
Similarly, the country’s wine imports during the pandemic year took a nose dive, down by 27% in value terms to €1.6 billion over 2019 despite its early containment of the virus spread, according to data released by Chinese customs.
Brisk off-trade sales that in many Western countries that compensated loss in on-trade failed to translate its success in China, where wine drinking as a pastime or part of dining experience is not yet ingrained in people’s daily routines.
There are reasons to be optimistic though, as importers within China are reporting an uptick in on-trade wine sales in the first quarter of the year, but uncertainties such as China’s 218% punitive tariffs on its biggest wine supplier Australia will continue to affect market dynamics.
For now, here are the top 10 wine exporters to China last year. Admittedly, all experienced downturns except one country.
South Africa’s export ban on wine during the pandemic dealt a costly blow to the country’s wine industry. In China, that resulted in South Africa slipping out of the top 10 list. Also absent on the list is Georgia, which had seen strong momentum in the past few years. Scroll through each page to see details.