China is set to become the fifth largest wine consuming market in the next year

China is set to become the fifth largest wine consuming market in the next year

China is set to overtake the UK in terms of still light wine consumption within the next 12 months, according to recent research.

The wine market in China reached 125m cases in 2010, making it the fastest growing major still light wine market with growth of 34.4% on 2009, The IWSR has calculated. In the research companies latest 'China Wine Market Report 2011', released late last month, China is forecast to grow to nearly 250m cases by 2016. If growth rates remain unchanged, it will become the largest wine market in the world in the next 20 years, The IWSR has said. By overtaking the UK, China would break into the top five of wine-consuming contries.

Growth is being driven primarily by consumer perception that red wine consumption has health benefits, the report says, as well as by growing wealth and the desire to impress. and the prospect of greater profit for farmers in growing vines at present compared to other crops.

“The taste for wine is first being created by the local industry,” The IWSR says. “Local players are supported and encouraged by the Chinese Government; they are developing wines at very affordable price points in channels where imported wines still cannot reach. Once the taste for wine is created, this emerging middle class will trade up to imported wines on a huge scale.”

Companies looking to import wine into China are hamstrung by the lack of knowledge Chinese consumers have about wines from abroad. “The key factor is to educate Chinese consumers and increase consumption in Chinese restaurants,” The IWSR advises. However, should the Government feel that imported wine is encroaching on the local wine industry, they could raise taxes for imported wine, according to the report.