Two leading wine fairs have fallen victim to the latest rounds of tightened social distancing measures in China, underlining the challenges for wine fair organizers even two years after the start of the pandemic.
Wine to Asia, organized by Vinitaly and Shenzhen Paco Communications announced last week that its planned wine show in Shenzhen on Dec 2-4 is postponed due to the southern metropolis’ tightening Covid-19 measures amid China’s latest Covid surges following new cases found in Shanghai.
Meanwhile TOE Wine announced that it would cancel its wine fair planned for August next year outright due to uncertainties posed by pandemic measures.
“The pandemic that has started since early last year has greatly impacted wine fairs at home and abroad. We are among a lucky few in the wine trade that managed to host two successful and consecutive wines fairs. But when will the pandemic impacts last? We can’t predict. Therefore, we have decided to cancel the 5th edition of TOE wine show,” the organizer of TOE Wine announced this week.
China’s sporadic Covid surges this year have pushed back wine fair schedules a few times. The country’s biggest wine and spirits fair, China Food & Drinks Fair, was pushed to April from March. In October Vinexpo Shanghai 2021 was cancelled due to international travel restrictions. The second edition of Wine to Asia has been delayed now three times this year, due to Covid flare-ups.
Only ProWine Shanghai so far was able to host its planned wine show without disruption in November.
It’s worthy to note that up till today, China hasn’t set out timeline to open to international visitors and implements stringent zero Covid policy, posing a daunting challenge for international wineries eager to make physical contacts with contacts on the ground.
In absence of large-scale wine shows, multi-city roadshows across the country has emerged as an effective way to make contacts with local trade and consumers.
Interwine for instance earlier organized a roadshow covering 18 cities in two months, and Vinitaly China Roadshow covered three cities – Beijing, Qingdao and Chongqing in September. ProWine Shanghai toured some 40 Chinese cities before officially kicking off in November.
However, with China’s zero policy, wine fair organizers will continue to face hurdles in putting up a successful wine fair for both international participants and domestic buyers.