The opportunity for Tequila in mainland China is seen as significant

The opportunity for Tequila in mainland China is seen as significant

Premium Tequila producer Patron Spirits is gearing up to launch its products in China as the country's long-running ban on high-alcohol versions of the spirit has been lifted.

China is expected to become the world's second-biggest Tequila market within five years now the restriction has been removed, according to Mexico's National Chamber for the Tequila Industry. The group anticipates annual export levels to mainland China to reach 10m litres by 2018. 

An agreement between Mexico and China's Government was reached in June, four years after negotiations over the ban began. 

The ban prevented Tequila containing more than two grams of methanol per litre being imported into mainland China. Concerns centered around the health implications of high-alcohol Tequila, but after an investigation it is understood China's authorities accepted the products are safe. 

Patron confirmed to just-drinks this week it plans to launch its full portfolio in China soon. “Product is on its way,” a company spokeperson said. “Our focus will begin with the major hubs - Shanghai, Beijing - and we'll grow from there.” 

Ten Tequila brands are already sold in China - including Jose Cuervo, Pernod Ricard's Olmeca Altos and Proximo's 1800 - that meet the country's regulations. Others include Pepe Lopez and Camino Real.

But Francisco Jiminez, the Tequila chamber's director general, told just-drinks today (1 August): “With this new opportunity in the China market we are expecting important growth to make it the second-largest market for exported Tequila in five years.”

In Apri, it emerged that Mexico had asked China to give a "scientific justification" for the ban.

The US is the largest importer of Tequila, around 130m litres annually, followed by Germany where the market is around 7m litres.