Japan (pic: iStock)

Japan (pic: iStock)

Japan's import volume went down but value grew in the first half of 2021. Meanwhile, France has overtaken Chile in both volume and value.

Japan’s wine consumption slowed down in the first half of the year in terms of value, however a trade-up in price has pushed up total import value, suggesting a premiumization trend.

Thanks to the EU-Japan free trade agreement that has removed all import tariffs on European wines, France has overtaken Chile to be Japan’s NO.1 wine importing country in the first six months of the year in both value and volume.  

According to the latest data released by Ministry of Finance in Japan, the imported volume of still wines (packed in less than 2 liters) during the first half of 2021 showed a 8% decrease and that of sparkling wines a 2.8% decrease from the same period last year.

Japan's wine imports in H1 2020 (pic: screengrab)
Japan’s wine imports in H1 2020 (pic: screengrab)

From January to June, the imported volume of bottled still wines was 76.4 million, a drop of 8% year on year. Despite the volume slide, its import value swelled. The country imported 51.03 billion yen (US$464.9 million) worth of wines, up by 3.6% over the same period last year. 

With the value increase, France has overtaken Chile as the country’s biggest wine supplier in both volume and value. 

In the first half of 2020, Chile, known for its wine’s affordability, was the number one country in terms of imported volume; however, this year, it was narrowly overtaken by France in volume. 

Import volume from Chile plunged by 24% to 20.2 million liters, while France only saw a moderate drop of 1.7% to 20.3 million liters. 

In terms of value, France showed a strong lead over others. The country exported 22.58 billion yen (US$205.7 million) worth of wines to Japan during the period, nearly half of the country’s total import value, or more than three times that of Chile (US$56.8 million). 

Last year, Chilean main brands such as Alpaca or Cono Sur benefited from strong home consumption due to Covid-19, pushing up the country’s total volume.  This year, their sales remained stable, which may have led to the decrease in the imported volume. 

Trailing France and Chile in order of volume are Italy, Spain, USA, Australia and Germany. 

The imported volume of sparkling wines in the first half of 2021 was 16.4 million liters, a decrease of 2.8% from the same period in the previous year. The imported amount was 28.66 billion yen (US$261.1 million), which showed a decrease of 2.0%.

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