By Tracey Barker

Recent statistics* released by the Singapore government suggest that the country is fast becoming a nation of wine lovers.

France is the market leader with imports valued at SG$151,090,000 in 2002. Australia holds second position (SG$28,923,000) with the US ranking third, Italy fourth and the UK fifth.

Singapore is recognised as one of the most affluent nations in SE Asia. With an estimated 7m litres of wine consumed last year - in 1995 the figure was put around 3m - exporters are keen to develop market share.

Augusto Di Giacinto, Italian trade commissioner in Singapore told just-drinks that his office is 'actively involved in creating awareness of Italian wines' and has witnessed an increased demand over the last 4-5 years, particularly for premium products.

For Australia, Singapore lies 14th for wine exports but ranks number one for the highest value-per-litre export at Aus$7.93. Producers from other New World countries such as New Zealand (8th) - who exported 99,786 litres to Singapore in the year ending June 2002, and South Africa (9th), are also implementing strategies to increase demand.

*statistics taken from Annual Report for Imports - Wine of Fresh Grapes Incl Fortified Wine & Grape Must (2002) © IE Singapore, supplied by the Italian Trade Commission, Singapore.