Hong Kong’s wine market made a triumphant rebound last year and its wine imports soared close to 50% over 2020, signaling the market has returned to pre-Covid level in 2019 but uncertainties hang as the city imposes toughest Covid curbs yet.
According to the latest data released by Census and Statistics, the city imported HKD 9.75 billion (USD 1.25 billion) in the first 11 months of the year, representing a year-on-year increase of 48.55%. This already represents a more than 10% increase over 2019’s overall value of HKD 8.81 billion, even without December data.
Import volume at the same time increased by 15.63% to 36.1 million liters from January to November over the same period in 2020.
In terms of country of origin, France ranks as Hong Kong’s top exporter with HKD 6.04 billion (USD 775 million) worth of wines shipped to the city, followed by Australia, the UK, US and Italy.
Interestingly, Australia saw the sharpest growth among all countries, as more wines are shipped to the city after mainland China imposed up to 218% anti-dumping tariffs on Australian wines last March.
In terms of wine categories, red is still the city’s favorite color. During the period, the city imported HKD 8.49 billion (USD1.08 billion) worth of reds, which accounts for 87% of all wine imports.
Hong Kong loves bubbles
What’s interesting is that the city is actually drinking more sparkling wine than white wines. Shipment of sparkling wines to Hong Kong last year soared to HKD 815 million (USD 104.5 million), whereas the value for white wines was nearly halved at HKD 411.3 million (USD 52.7 million).
The increases seen in Hong Kong’s wine market is in line with the city’s warming economic recovery, which reversed the declines seen in 2020.
The city’s strong spending power togethering with brisk on-trade wine sales are credited for fueling the city’s wine market recovery, but the growth could be clipped by the government’s toughest Covid measures yet.
Uncertainties with toughest Covid curbs
Starting from January, Hong Kong again tightened social distancing measures ahead of Chinese New Year, the biggest shopping season for wine and spirits sales, but in February with the infectious Omicron, Hong Kong’s pandemic control was heading for the worse.
Hong Kong confirmed 625 cases on Tuesday, a record high for the city whose highest daily cases in the past two years never exceeded 200, triggering the local government to impose unprecedented social distancing measures.
Starting from February 10, public and family gatherings will be capped at two persons. Vaccination pass which is expected to roll out on February 24 is also expanded to include venues of shopping malls, department stores, supermarkets, wet markets, hair salons in addition to previously announced restaurants, bars, gyms etc.
While dinner dine-in is already banned since January, persons allowed per table will be further cut to limit Covid spread.
The government also announced closure of hair salons and religious venues until vaccination pass is in place on February 24.
Meanwhile, bars and nightclubs still remain closed since January, with no re-opening date in sight.