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THAILAND: Wine industry sees boom as Thai economy recovers

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Leading members of the Thai wine industry believe that the Thai wine market will rise 30% this year to be worth Bt400m ($10.25m). The biggest market will be in the under-Bt500 per bottle sector ($12).

Thai paper The Nation said that the number of wine importers has risen from 15 soon after the 1997 economic crisis to around 60-70 now.

The value of total imported wine rose from Bt149m in 1998 to Bt306m last year. However, before the economic woes of 1997 and the devaluation of the Baht, wine sales were worth Bt450m. At this time there were also over 250 importers.

From January to April this year, the total wine imported had a value of Bt94m. French wine had the highest market share with 38.8% or Bt36.51m. Italian wine had 11.49% of the market or Bt10.88m.

Competition in the market was set to increase, the paper said, as importers increased. Cheaper wine will see the greatest growth as wine importers concentrate on the under-Bt500 sector.

"Price is a major factor when consumers make a decision on which bottle to buy. Thais do not have brand loyalty," said one leading importer.

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