On the Grapevine

Vinexpo Asia-Pacific draws thousands
China’s economy has growth exponentially in recent years and its wine market is also going great guns, as evidenced by its holding of the recent Vinexpo Asia-Pacific held in Hong Kong at the end of May. The last time the trade show visited Asia two years ago it was still a fledgling industry but this time it was clearly evident that Chinese firms were geared up for the occasion, working with wineries and merchants to ensure deals that will secure long term imports to China. Sales of 2009 Bordeaux futures in particular were hot tips.
More than 880 exhibitors from 32 different countries greeted 12,000 visitors over three days, a 40 percent attendance increase from 2008. Of the visitors, the majority were from Asian countries, with China taking the lead, followed by Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Singapore.
Total wine consumption in the region is increasing four times faster than the world average. Hong Kong’s elimination of import duties in 2008 has only accelerated the trend.
The ease of starting a new business in China and the difficulties in investing in other sectors such as real estate have lured investors to fine wine, further increasing pressure on demand for top labels.
The Chinese focus on brands, rather than vintages opening the door to vintages that have not been easy to sell to Americans or British consumers and this is viewed as a huge potential for suppliers.
The growth is however tempered by the worry that current traders might be one hit wonders and suppliers see the need to expand beyond the Beijing and Shanghai markets. Retailers and distributors are also realising that there’s a growing opportunity for mid-priced wines, between the grands crus and low-cost Chinese wines.

Wine bottles are seeing the light
North American wine consumers will be noticing a lightening in their wines in the coming months, with the weight of bottles in line for a considerable reduction.
US-based Owens-Illinois from Perrysburg, Ohio is the world’s largest producer of glass packaging, and it recently announced that it will begin manufacturing wine bottles weighing as little as 11.6 ounces, that’s weigh up to 27 percent less than similar bottles, targeting its North American market.
Just as America has finally jumped on the “green” bandwagon, catching up with half of the rest of the world, sporting hybrid cars and forgoing plastic bags for reusable bags, the wine bottle producing industry there is also beginning to see the light, thereby reducing its carbon footprint with lighter bottles.
Consumers in the US now have quite a choice when it comes to containers for wines as they can now choose among an increasing number of wines in boxes and cardboard Tetra Paks. Such packaging is lighter and can actually reduce transportation costs because they stack more neatly and uniformly, thus reducing carbon emissions created by transportation.