China’s biggest wine and spirits fair has yet again been postponed due to sporadic Covid cases found in the southwestern city of Chengdu, highlighting the challenges of organizing physical fairs even though local cases are in single digits.
Hailed as China’s biggest and most influential trade fair for alcoholic drinks and food, the 106th edition China Food and Drinks Fair in Chengdu was expected to welcome over 300,000 trade visitors this year at Western China (Chengdu) International Expo Cityon March 24-26.
Citing new Covid cases, the fair has now been postponed to April, the organizer announced on March 2, in a latest blow to China’s domestic drinks trade.
Exact dates of the fair have not yet been confirmed by the organizer.
The news was announced after the southwestern city of 16 million residents reported sporadic Covid cases in recent two months, but daily case numbers always remained in single digit.
The postponement, according to the organizer, is to “ensure participant’s health and safety”, and “optimal results for trade,” but it will cause logistical and management challenges to visitors and exhibitors just three weeks shy of its scheduled start date.
In both 2020 and 2021, the China Food and Drinks Fair have been postponed from its usual springtime slots in March, in the hopes that Covid infections would be controlled.
But with China’s strict ‘zero covid policy’, large-scale trade fairs like China Food and Drinks Fair often ended up being disrupted in planning to curb contacts and people’s mobility, posing challenges to the country’s struggling wine and spirits merchants and importers.
Additionally, the strict Covid policy also means that the country has essentially sealed off its borders for two years, making it harder for market access.
The country’s wine market is already going in reverse. Last year’s wine imports dropped by 13.1% in value on a low comparing base of 2020.