ProWine Shanghai (pic: ProWine Shanghai)

ProWine Shanghai (pic: ProWine Shanghai)

As ProWine Shanghai 2021 makes a comeback during an improving yet ongoing battle against Covid-19, the fair organizer's ability to provide a meaningful and engaging platform for both international exhibitors and domestic buyers is put to the test. We talked to Josh Gu, head of ProWine Shanghai, to see how the fair pivots and adapts to the new normal.
Josh Gu, head of ProWine Shanghai (pic: ProWine Shanghai)
Josh Gu, head of ProWine Shanghai (pic: ProWine Shanghai)

Q: For wineries and producers overseas, what can they expect from the fair with travel restrictions still in place?

Josh Gu: China at the moment has not lifted travel ban and our Chinese buyers have almost no opportunity to go overseas or visit wineries; Overseas wineries also rarely have the opportunity to come to China. ProWine Shanghai provides a very important one-stop platform, giving Chinese companies, including local importers and distributors an opportunity to learn about the latest global wine market. This is a very, very important window platform that provides the latest information to the local market.

With the overall promotion of ProWine’s brand in China, we have expanded coverage in publicity and promotion. We better understand some local needs and invite local buyers to our Shanghai exhibition. At the same time, another dimension is from the perspective of depth. In the past two years, we have gradually invested a lot of time, energy and funds for our end buyers, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets and other channels to further increase promotion.

ProWine Shanghai provides such an opportunity to help overseas wineries open up to importers, distributors and end buyers, a process that connects the entire supply chain.

Q: What can the organizer provide to ensure overseas exhibitors maximize their participation at this year’s ProWine Shanghai?

Josh Gu: For us, because many overseas exhibitors cannot come to Shanghai to participate in the exhibition since last year, we began to focus on overseas organizations and local support. On this basis, we have provided assistance to overseas companies in terms of human resources and logistics support earlier this year to help facilitate their participation in advance. For example, we will first build a bridge between wine lecturers, importers, and distributors, so that they can have the opportunity to learn about overseas winery products in advance, and then see if the time is right, they can exhibit during our Shanghai exhibition.

Another one, during ProWine Shanghai 2021, we set up a Pink Rose Lounge for the first time. The lounge will focus on product display. Exhibitors can send products to our exhibition site, and then we will display the products accordingly. We will also display information of the wine for local buyers so that anyone who’s interested can contact us and the winery directly.

Covid screening and testing are vigorous in China (pic: iStock)
Covid screening and testing are vigorous in China (pic: iStock)

Q: What are the measures taken by ProWine Shanghai to ensure visitor and exhibitor’s safety?

Josh Gu: In terms of epidemic prevention and control especially the sporadic cases on the mainland in the past two days, it has made our overall work more difficult. We will strictly abide by the relevant requirements of Shanghai’s epidemic prevention and disease control departments, and will strictly enforce such rules on all exhibitors, visitors and staff on site.

These policies are not only the protection of on-site participants, but also the protection of the city of Shanghai. After coming to our exhibition site, we will first check the health code, which also tracks a user’s whereabouts. We may also conduct a certain spot check. At the same time, entering the exhibition hall also requires body temperature testing and disinfection.

Q: How’s the Chinese wine market? Has it recovered to pre-covid level?

Josh Gu: Objectively speaking, the Chinese wine market is still greatly affected by the pandemic, and of course it is gradually recovering. From the perspective of our exhibition organizer, compared with last year, there is an increase of about 20% of exhibition area. I think that when exhibitors participated in the exhibition last year, there would be a lot of troubles and obstacles, which caused many exhibitors to wait and see. But now, we regard this pandemic as a normalized situation, and we have carried out many related activities in an orderly manner, and have begun to explore the market and open up the market under this special situation.

Wine in the mainland market is more likely to be of social nature, and people think that the consumption scene may be that wine will be used in some large-scale business banquets. However, because of the epidemic, wine may be pushed to the family even more. As we reduce gatherings, household consumption is increasing. At this time, everyone’s choice of wine has gradually increased to a higher level. Therefore, there are some domestic wine brands or distributors, and it is worth learning to control the reverse of the market at this special time.

Masterclass at ProWine Shanghai last year (pic: ProWine Shanghai)
Masterclass at ProWine Shanghai last year (pic: ProWine Shanghai)

Q: What are the highlights for this year’s fair?

Josh Gu: Firstly, one of the highlights is Chinese wine. Chinese wine has made great progress in the past two years, including more professional marketing. So this year at the exhibition site, wineries from the eastern foothills of Helan Mountain in Ningxia has increased its exhibition area and Up Chinese Wine also expanded the exhibition area.

Secondly, the California Pavilion is the largest exhibition area in the history of their participation in ProWine Shanghai. This will be a very big highlight of our exhibition this year.

Thirdly, Canadian Pavilion is making a return to the fair this year after dropping out last year due to the pandemic.

In addition, don’t miss the Pink Rose Lounge. For the first time this year, we set up the Pink Rose Lounge during the Shanghai Exhibition. We also see the lounge a a great opportunity for branding purpose, as it’s expected to make buzz among social media savvy participants and visitors.

Q: What are the new trends emerged this year in the market that you have observed?

Josh Gu: I personally think that China’s ability to produce good wines is no longer a problem. The problem we are facing now is how to sell these wines to consumers. From the perspective of our wine merchants, including our leaders in these production areas, there is a trend that wine producers are becoming more and more professional, and they are more market-oriented and more eloquent in communicating their winegrowing regions and wines.

At the same time, I think that in terms of the division of work, everyone is becoming more and more clear. What we should do in the wine region in China is the promotion of the region, the winery is doing the promotion of the winery, and the owner of the winery still has to do self-promotion. Everyone now gradually has a stronger awareness of how to perform their respective duties to do a good job in promotion. This is a trend we have seen in Chinese wine in the past two years.

Another trend we have seen is that more promotion of Chinese wines through video channels, live broadcasts, and similar methods. We are also considering the form of video, we will increase investment in this area next, I think this is also a very important direction and trend.

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